Knowledge for better food systems

Food safety challenges and One Health within Europe

This review paper outlines some food safety issues in Europe from the perspective of the One Health approach, which views human, animal and environmental health as related and emphasises the importance of sharing information on animal and human health.

Examples discussed in the paper include:

  • The spread of foodborne bacteria and viruses such as E. coli and norovirus
  • Foodstuffs carrying bacteria with genes for antimicrobial resistance
  • The spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease)

The paper points to the importance of measuring the incidence of foodborne diseases, focusing improvement efforts on the areas of highest risk and improving livestock rearing conditions rather than relying on antimicrobial substances.



This review discusses food safety aspects of importance from a One Health perspective, focusing on Europe. Using examples of food pathogen/food commodity combinations, spread of antimicrobial resistance in the food web and the risk of transmission of zoonotic pathogens in a circular system, it demonstrates how different perspectives are interconnected. The chosen examples all show the complexity of the food system and the necessity of using a One Health approach. Food safety resources should be allocated where they contribute most One Health benefits. Data on occurrence and disease burden and knowledge of source attribution are crucial in assessing costs and benefits of control measures. Future achievements in food safety, public health and welfare will largely be based on how well politicians, researchers, industry, national agencies and other stakeholders manage to collaborate using the One Health approach. It can be concluded that closer cooperation between different disciplines is necessary to avoid silo thinking when addressing important food safety challenges. The importance of this is often mentioned, but more proof of concept is needed by the research community.



Boqvist, S., Söderqvist, K. and Vågsholm, I., 2018. Food safety challenges and One Health within Europe. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 60(1), p.1.

Read the full paper here. See also the Foodsource chapter What is the connection between food and health?

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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