The amount of foodborne outbreaks reported in Germany has continued to fall, according to the latest figures.

In 2021, the Robert Koch-Institut (RKI) and Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) received slightly fewer reports of outbreaks with 168 compared to 193 in the previous year.

At least 1,179 cases, 196 hospitalizations, and two deaths were related to them in 2021. As in previous years, the top causes were Campylobacter and Salmonella.

Other agents involved in outbreaks were norovirus, Bacillus cereus, hepatitis A virus, Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium perfringens, Yersinia enterocolitica, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), Clostridium botulinum, Cronobacter sakazakii, histamine, Shigella, and Staphylococcus aureus. In seven outbreaks with 73 cases, the pathogen remained unknown.

Nineteen of the 22 outbreaks with more than five patients were caused by Salmonella.

Outbreak examples
Compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the number of reported outbreaks has halved. This is due to several things including action taken to contain Coronavirus, reduced travel, and better hygiene measures said RKI and BVL.

Of 21 so-called high evidence outbreaks, due to a connection between illness and food, six were caused by Bacillus cereus with 105 cases. Six were also due to Salmonella with 210 patients and 67 hospitalizations.

One Campylobacter outbreak affected 39 people, two each were sick in Listeria and Clostridium botulinum outbreaks, and histamine sickened 13 people.

An outbreak of Cronobacter sakazakii involved four babies and one death at a hospital. It was linked to the hospital-mixed probiotic infant formula. 

The biggest outbreak with 98 cases was caused by norovirus and linked to contaminated lettuce. Food was thought to have been contaminated by a sick person.

The second largest affected 93 people and was due to Bacillus cereus. It was linked to the consumption of rice with vegetables at several daycare centers. These sites were supplied by the same catering company. An investigation found that insufficient cooling and incorrect storage conditions of the cooked rice with vegetables could have been the cause.   

The third biggest caused 82 cases and 30 hospitalizations and was part of a multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup linked to Galia melons from Honduras.

One death in the Listeria outbreak
Seven of the high-evidence outbreaks occurred in private homes and three were traced back to fast food or takeaway settings.

Contributing factors included non-compliance with time and temperature storage conditions, insufficient cooling or heat treatment, cross-contamination, an infected employee, or contaminated Ingredient.

Of the 147 low-evidence outbreaks, 63 were caused by Campylobacter with 175 cases. Nineteen with 61 cases of Salmonella Enteritidis, 18 with 97 patients with Salmonella Typhimurium, and 11 with 147 infections by other Salmonella types.

Thirteen patients and one death were recorded in three Listeria outbreaks. Two STEC outbreaks caused six infections and two Yersinia enterocolitica epidemics affected four people. Hepatitis A was linked to four outbreaks and 11 cases.

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