More than 330 outbreaks affect more than 1,200 people in Belgium by 2020, according to the food agency’s annual report.
333 outbreaks affected 1,262 people with 27 in need of hospital treatment. Two elderly people died, one due to Salmonella and the other due to E. coli (STEC) infection that produced the toxin in Shiga, but a link to the food could not be confirmed.
The prevalence was from 571 in 2019 with 2,457 sick people and 28 hospitalized. The Federal Food Chain Safety Agency (FASFC) said the impact of coronavirus measures such as closing schools and more housework plus closing restaurants and canteens partly explains the decline.
Causes of explosions
The agent responsible for the 317 blasts was unknown. Campylobacter caused three to 10 sick people and STEC three to 17 sick and 14 hospitalized, according to data from Sciensano, the Belgian Scientific Institute of Public Health.
Bacillus cereus was after two events with 20 sick, histamine two with 12 affected and Salmonella two with 11 sick and six in need of hospital treatment after eating meat and pork products.
A norovirus outbreak has affected 151 people associated with vegetables; honey was responsible for a Clostridium botulinum disease and the source was unknown for an outbreak of Clostridium perfringens with 21 patients.
Almost half of the outbreaks were related to HORECA, or the hospitality and hospitality sector. More than a quarter were related to private households and 10 percent to ready-made and fast food.
The FASFC recorded and handled 3,605 customer complaints this year. It is mostly related to hygiene or food poisoning. Following an increase in recent years, the number decreased in 2020, mainly due to the closure of the restaurant sector amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Remembers and deceives
Nearly 400 product recall announcements were published by the FASFC in 2020, also known as the AFSCA or FAVV, with 105 related to sesame seeds produced in India and treated with ethylene oxide, which is not authorized for use. such in Europe. This is from 239 reminders and warnings in 2019.
In September 2020, a company notified the FASFC of the presence of the substance in a batch of sesame seeds. This issue has touched much of Europe with lasting memories since this month.
In 2020, 3,777 reports were made by all European Union member states through the Food and Drug Alert System (RASFF) and 266 came from Belgium. There was an increase in reports regarding products distributed in the Belgian market, mainly due to ethylene oxide.
The National Investigation Unit (UNE) recorded 1,419 fraud reports this year compared to 712 in 2018 and 1,331 in 2019. In 2020, this included opening nearly 800 fraud investigations and taking 953 samples.
UNE was able to close 673 cases. Fifty included home visits and raids with police. The unit received 62 alerts and also sent 62 reports through a European food fraud notification system called AAC-FF.
As part of a European Commission action plan focused on products claiming to protect against the coronavirus or boost the immune system, Belgium handled 50 cases involving illegal products or products with fraudulent claims.
In one operation, 73 samples of fresh and frozen tuna were taken from wholesale and retail businesses with 37 considered non-compliant. The problems were found mostly in frozen tones and the origin was mainly Vietnam but also Spain and the Netherlands.
Overall, 79 tonnes were judged as incompatible with 35 tonnes treated with carbon monoxide. Other issues were the addition of ascorbic acid and nitrate or nitrite.
Another action looked sulfite in the flesh to promote the decay of red color and mask. Initially, seven of the 20 sites were found to be incompatible with the use of the preservative. A second action revealed the use of sulfites in 18 of the 30 countries visited.
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