The number of outbreaks rose in Finland in 2022, but the number of people sick in them declined.

A total of 55 foodborne epidemics were recorded in the national food poisoning register, in which 622 people fell ill. The most common cause was norovirus.

In 2021, 46 outbreaks were recorded, affecting 1,378 people. This included a large Salmonella outbreak that affected more than 700 people. The implicated food was a salad with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, and peas served in several kindergartens. 

The most prominent incident involved Salmonella Mbandaka spread through various ready-to-eat foods containing cooked chicken. Almost 100 people got sick. This is part of a broader European outbreak.

A norovirus outbreak linked to salad sickened more than 70 people. Norovirus was identified in 16 epidemics affecting 248 patients. A contributing factor to 12 outbreaks was infected workers.

Salmonella was responsible for three incidents and 109 ill people. Campylobacter was behind three outbreaks with 20 cases. Three Listeria and Yersinia outbreaks also affected 26 and 31 people, respectively.

Two Bacillus cereus outbreaks had 20 patients, and one Clostridium perfringens outbreak sickened eight. One Cryptosporidium parvum outbreak had 35 patients, an E. coli outbreak had 10 cases, and four people were sick in one Hepatitis E outbreak.

General food safety situation
Data were included in a report covering regulatory oversight of food safety, official controls and monitoring programs on food and feed, and research and risk assessments in 2022.

It revealed that food inspections have increased and returned to levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, about 24,000 inspections were carried out.

The number of food establishments in official registers decreased. This may be because of introducing an annual charge according to the Food Act and updated registers, with the removal of companies that have ceased operations.

While more epidemics were identified than in the past few years, the number of sick people fell in 2022 as many small-scale incidents were registered. No outbreak classified as significant — affecting more than 100 people — was reported. The agent was unknown in 14 outbreaks with 91 cases.

More suspected crime cases in the food chain came to the attention of Ruokavirasto (the Finnish Food Authority) than in previous years, up to 74 from 57 in 2021. Eight court decisions were mentioned, including one of illegal sheep slaughter, where two people received prison sentences.

“Hopefully, the positive development of food safety will continue, and it will be possible to invest the necessary resources in food safety in the future as well,” said Marjatta Rahkio, head of the food safety department at Ruokavirasto.

About 50 notifications of severe allergic reactions caused by food are made to the national anaphylaxis register annually.

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