Food Safety: At the Center of a One Health Approach for Combating Zoonoses

Pieter Wielinga, Jørgen Schlundt

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Food Safety is at the center of One Health. Many, if not most, of all important zoonoses relate in some way to animals in the food production chain. Therefore, the food becomes an important vehicle for many, but not all, of these zoonotic pathogens. One of the major issues in food safety over the latest decennia has been the lack of cross-sectoral collaboration across the food production chain. Major food safety events have been significantly affected by the lack of collaboration between the animal health, the food control, and the human health sector. Examples range from BSE and E. coli outbreaks over dioxin crises to intentional melamine contamination. One Health formulates clearly both the need for and the benefit of cross-sectoral collaboration. In this chapter, we will focus on the human health risk related to zoonotic microorganisms present both in food animals and food from these animals, and typically transmitted to humans through food. We focus on these issues because they are very important in relation to the human disease burden, but also because this is the area where some experience of cross-sectoral collaboration already exist. Food related zoonoses can be separated in three major classes: parasites, bacteria, and viruses. While parasites often relate to very specific animal hosts and contribute significantly to the human disease burden, virus have often been related to major, well-published global outbreaks, e.g. SARS and avian- and swine-influenza. The bacterial zoonoses on the other hand often result in sporadic, but very wide-spread disease cases, resulting in a major disease burden in all countries, e.g. Salmonella and Campylobacter. Next to these traditional zoonotic problems, the use of antimicrobials in (food) animals has also caused the emergence of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) zoonotic bacteria. It is important to realize the difference in the nature of disease epidemiology, as well as, in society's reaction to these diseases in different socio-economic settings. Some diseases have global epidemic-or pandemic-potential, resulting in dramatic action from international organizations and national agricultural-and health authorities in most countries, for instance as was the case with avian influenza. Other diseases relate to the industrialized food production chain and have been-in some settings-dealt with efficiently through farm-to-fork preventive action in the animal sector, e.g. Salmonella. Finally, an important group of zoonotic diseases are 'neglected diseases' in poor settings, while they have been basically eradicated in affluent economies through vaccination and culling policies in the animal sector, e.g. Brucella.
Original languageEnglish
Book seriesCurrent Topics in Microbiology and Immunology
Pages (from-to)3-17
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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