The risk of tick-borne encephalitis in raw goat milk and health issues linked to collagen powder was among novel topics discussed in Europe for 2020, according to information recently released.

Thirteen potential emerging issues were assessed in 2020 and six were judged to be emerging issues, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

EFSA networks contributing to the topic include the Emerging Risks Exchange Network (EREN), the Stakeholder Discussion Group on Emerging Risks, EFSA’s scientific units, scientific panels and the Scientific Committee.

EREN includes the 27 EU member states, Norway and Switzerland, and observers from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and DG Sante.

In 2020, EREN members raised 35 potential emerging issues that had been identified by their own horizon-scanning work.

Data on 2021 is expected to be published in mid-July and the 2022 report should also be coming out later this year.

Issues were classified by hazard or driver with five being microbiological, two chemical and one a new process or technology.

TBE and collagen powder
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is caused by the tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). The disease is characterized by acute and chronic neurological infections in humans. Vaccination campaigns have led to a significantly decreased incidence in some areas of Europe.

The virus can be transmitted by consumption of unpasteurized milk products from infected animals, primarily goats, and foodborne outbreaks have been reported in central and eastern European countries, including Germany. In France, foodborne transmission of TBEV had not been reported until mid-2020, when 44 cases of lymphocytic meningitis, encephalitis and infectious syndromes were identified in the Ain department in the Rhone-Alpes region and TBE infection was confirmed for these patients.

The EREN recommended that the EFSA update two of its scientific panels and discuss the human health implications with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The consumption of collagen powder as a dietary supplement is increasing in Europe. This is because of claimed anti-aging properties. The powder is consumed either in pure form or added to smoothies and coffee.

Not much is known about the long-term effects of high collagen intake, but certain properties of collagen powder raise potential concerns. With the high content of hydroxyproline, collagen may increase the risk of kidney stones. Most collagen powder products are made from marine sources and include large amounts of calcium, so allergies are another potential risk. Experts said there was a need for consumption data on collagen powder as food supplements but a risk assessment had been started.

Other issues covered were related to COVID-19, selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) in food supplements, novel animal feed, and the possibility of Chagas disease in Europe due to climate change.

National horizon scanning activities raised topics such as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) surviving storage in wheat flour for two years; Hepatitis E in pork meat products; a rise in Vibrio infections due to climate change and an increase in the anisakis fish parasite.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here)