23 million people falling ill from unsafe food each year in Europe is just the tip of the iceberg

Every minute, 44 people – more than 23 million per year – fall sick from eating contaminated food, and an estimated 4700 per year lose their lives. This is according to a review of the most recent available data entitled “The burden of foodborne diseases in the WHO European Region”, and it represents only the tip of the iceberg: the true number of cases is unknown.

These findings were presented on the occasion of the first-ever World Food Safety Day on 7 June 2019. The WHO European Region joined partners across the world in celebrating the day to raise awareness and promote action to improve food safety.

To read more about this go to: http://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/press-releases/2019/23-million-people-falling-ill-from-unsafe-food-each-year-in-europe-is-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg

European Commission funded project uses groundbreaking “CRMs” to check food pesticides

The European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) is developing Certified Reference Materials (“CRM”). CRM is a measurement standard supporting laboratories to check the quality of their measurement methods.

CRMs are being developed at the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Geel, Belgium. The labs are performing quality checks to monitor ingredients and contaminants in the food, such as the pesticides in cucumber. They have even developed a ‘pesticides in cucumber’ CRM. Its powder made from cucumbers that comes with a certificate indicating the concentration of multi-pesticides. Euronews spoke to Marta Dabrio a project Officer at JRC-Geel about the CRM.

“Laboratories can use our cucumber CRM by integrating it into their own measurements. This means that if they analyze the CRM with their own methods, and if they obtain the results that we indicate in the certificate, they measure correctly.”

But they also analyse real food products. The cucumber needs to be prepared. If the number of pesticides analyzed in the cucumber CRM match those in the certificate, it confirms that the analytical method and the instruments used by the laboratory are reliable.

To read more about this on the Euronews website, go to: https://www.euronews.com/2019/04/22/european-commission-funded-project-use-groundbreaking-crms-to-check-food-pesticides

Health and Food Safety 

The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) published a statement on emerging health and environmental issues.

The SCHEER statement on emerging health and environmental issues draws attention to 14 emerging issues in the non-food area that Committee members have identified as having a potential impact on human health and/or the environment in the future. Among the risks identified is the increase of pharmaceuticals and illicit drug loads in wastewater as a result of rise in the use of drugs, aging population and fly tipping of waste from illegal drug manufacturing sites. The presence of antibiotics in surface water may represent a change in the functioning of ecosystems and a risk to human health


Source: Health and Food Safety e-News – Newsroom Archive

Why and how Europe’s food systems need to change?

What can be done to prepare Europe’s food systems for the future? In a new Policy Précis, EuroHealthNet examines pathways, solutions and best practices to move towards healthier and more sustainable and inclusive food systems in Europe and beyond. 

Despite growing concern about sustainability, Europe’s food systems still put undue stress on our environment. By restraining access to decent and affordable nutrition, our food systems perpetuate and drive up health inequalities. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) continues to subsidise intensive production of alcohol, meat, dairy fats and sugars, products that are known to contribute to the growing prevalence of obesity, and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

To read the Policy Précis in full, go to: https://eurohealthnet.eu/sites/eurohealthnet.eu/files/publications/Towards%20healthy%2C%20sustainable%20and%20inclusive%20European%20food%20systems.pdf#overlay-context=

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway 

The Gateway recently published a series of briefs on Dietary Salt, Dietary Fats as well as Alcoholic Beverages. Knowledge Gateway briefs include useful and well-structured information on critical issues.

You will find reliable, independent and up-to date information on topics related to the promotion of health and well-being, in particular the prevention of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

To read more about these briefs go to: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway – European Commission

Fight against food fraud: 45 tons of illegally treated tuna seized in Spain

On 11 August, the environmental protection service of the Spanish civil guard SEPRONA announced the seizure of 45 tons of illegally treated tuna fish. Four people were investigated and face possible criminal penalties of up to four years in prison for endangering public health, as well as administrative sanctions. The investigation has so far uncovered three companies and three fishing vessels involved in the fraudulent scheme.

Investigators found that frozen tuna only suitable for canning had been illegally treated with substances that enhance the colour and then been diverted to the market to be sold as fresh fish. This treatment can pose a serious public health risk associated with allergic reactions to histamine.

To read more about this go to: http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/sante/newsletter-specific-archive-issue.cfm?archtype=specific&newsletter_service_id=327&newsletter_issue_id=10314&page=1&fullDate=Mon%2013%20Aug%202018&lang=default

Taxes on tobacco and sugary drinks can save lives

A new WHO study on Montenegro has revealed that increased taxes applied to tobacco products and sugary drinks would have a significant positive impact in terms of avoiding premature mortality and new cases of disease over the next 20 years. If introduced as recommended by WHO, the taxes would also raise revenue and result in major monetary savings for the government in the form of reduced costs of treatment and workplace absenteeism. The results indicate that increased taxation applied to these products would be a powerful tool for Montenegro in achieving national and global targets related to reductions in overweight and obesity and tobacco smoking prevalence.

To read more about this study on Montenegro go to: WHO/Europe | Montenegro study: taxes on tobacco and sugary drinks can save lives

Intersectoral salt reduction initiatives in Republic of Moldova

On 12–13 December 2017, a team of technical officers from WHO/Europe conducted a capacity-building workshop in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, on intersectoral planning on salt reduction. The workshop aimed to strengthen the knowledge and capacities of local public health practitioners to define priority interventions on salt reduction. According to the preliminary results of the National Salt Intake Survey, the country’s adult population consumes 10 grams of salt per day, which is twice the WHO recommendation.

It also supported the development of practical steps for implementing the priority interventions using a multistakeholder approach. This approach takes into account the national applicability of national and international guidance documents, as well as gaps in knowledge and evidence for implementation.

To read more about this on the WHO/Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | WHO provides support to intersectoral salt reduction initiatives in Republic of Moldova

Bisphenol A: more stringent measures for food contact materials

The Commission has published today a new Regulation that significantly tightens the restrictions on the use of BPA in food contact materials. It lowers the regulatory limit (specific migration limit or ‘SML’), which is the amount allowed to migrate from the plastic material into food while keeping it safe, and extends this restriction to coating materials, which are used to line food and drink cans. The new Regulation also extends the ban from 2011 on the use of BPA in baby bottles by prohibiting the use of BPA to manufacture infant ‘sippy’ cups as well as the migration of BPA from coated materials containing food intended for infants and children 0–3 year olds. The new Regulation will apply from 6 September 2018.

To read more go to: http://www.bisphenol-a-europe.org/new-limits-bpa-food-contact-materials/