Fewer food-borne disease outbreaks in 2020

Thursday, 21. October 2021 – 13:39

The NVWA Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and the Municipal Health Service (GGD) registered fewer outbreaks of food-related infections and poisonings than in previous years. Campylobacter, Salmonella and norovirus will continue to be the main causes of food-borne disease outbreaks in 2020. This is evident from the registration of food-related outbreaks in the Netherlands in 2020.

In 2020, NVWA and GGDs registered a total of 559 food-related outbreaks, which led to 1907 sick people. In the previous year, this was 735 outbreaks with 3,058 sick people.

Food-related outbreaks

People can get sick from food if it is contaminated with pathogens. When two or more people get sick from the same food, we call it a food-related outbreak. Doctors and laboratories must report these outbreaks to the GGD. People who suspect that they have become ill due to food can also report this themselves to the NVWA. The numbers mentioned are lower than the actual number of food-related outbreaks and the number of sick people. This is partly because not everyone who is ill goes to the general practitioner or informs the NVWA. The actual number of food-related infections in the Netherlands was estimated at about half a million last year.


Food-related infections can often be prevented by working hygienically in the kitchen. This means washing hands before cooking, using different cutting boards and knives for raw and cooked food, and letting the food cook properly. The (attention to) the corona measures may have led to behavioral change. The closure of catering establishments or the ban on meetings could also be a cause of the decline. In addition, there may also be a lower number of people who contacted a (general) doctor in case of illness.

Analysis registrations

The NVWA and the GGDs are investigating outbreaks of food-related infections and poisonings in order to prevent more sick people and outbreaks. The NVWA has food safety analyzed by WFSR Wageningen Foodsafety Research, and it itself investigates the origin and place where it is prepared. The GGD focuses on people who have eaten contaminated food and tries to trace the possible source(s) through them.



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