Surveillance of Foodborne Disease
Surveillance od foodborne disease is a fundamental component of any food safety
system. Surveillance data are used for planning, implementing and evaluating public
health policies. Worldwide, foodborne diseases, and more especially diarrheal
diseases, are an important cause of morbidity and mortality. There is therefore a
strong need to strengthen surveillance systems for foodborne disease. WHO is
developing a comprehensive strategy on strengthening foodborne disease
Global Salm-Surv (http://www.who.int/salmsurv) is a global surveillance network on
Salmonella initiated in January 2000, consisting in institutions and individuals in
human health, veterinary and food-related disciplines. Activities have consisted of
regional trainings for microbiologists, external quality assurance and reference
testing, an electronic discussion group and a web-based databank containing an
annual summary of laboratories.
Over the following one to five years, Global Salm-Surv plans to its improve regional
coverage, to introduce epidemiology training, to expand to other foodborne pathogens
(Campylobacter), to produce training manuals in microbiology and epidemiology and
to establish regional centers.
The WHO strategy on foodborne disease surveillance will also include very soon :
- Evaluation of existing networks involved in the surveillance of foodborne
disease to create a global network (network of network)
- Establishment of sentinel sites, especially in developing countries.
- Strengthening foodborne disease outbreak investigation and response
capability at the international, regional and national level.
The overall objective of strengthening surveillance of foodborne disease is to provide
member states with the necessary data to reduce the foodborne disease burden by
improving their food safety system. The World Trade Organization Sanitary and
Phytosanitary Agreement introduced in 1995 the concept risk assessment, which was
further endorsed by the Codex Alimentarius. Data from surveillance are of paramount
importance for all steps of risk analysis, namely risk profiling, risk assessment, risk
management and risk communication. More especially, improving data on
surveillance on human disease and food monitoring will greatly help reducing
uncertainties in risk assessment, thus allowing a more accurate selection of mitigation