Commissioner David Byrne has welcomed the Agriculture Council’s final adoption of legislation designed to cut the incidence of food-borne diseases in the European Union.

The two laws, proposed by the European Commission in August 2001 and backed by the European Parliament in May 2002, provide for a thorough revision of current EU legislation and are designed to improve protective measures against “zoonoses”, diseases, such as salmonella, campylobacter, listeria and E. coli, that are transmissible between animals and humans.

“This legislation demonstrates how the Commission’s ‘farm to fork’ approach is being implemented in practice to ensure safe food for consumers,” said Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection.

“Currently, the number of food-borne infections affecting consumers across the EU is far too high. Salmonella alone infects over 160 000 individuals in the EU annually, of which it is estimated that around 200 die. The annual costs of food-borne salmonella are reckoned to reach up to €2.8bn (US$3.3bn) per year,” Byrne said.

“[The legislation] will significantly decrease the presence of salmonella on farms and should reduce human infections,” he added.