Preliminary estimates published in the annual trends and projections assessment of the European Environment Agency (EEA), show that greenhouse gas emissions across the EU rose slightly in 2017, mostly due to the transport sector.
The report shows a 0.6% emissions increase in 2017 from 2016. This limited increase means that the EU is still expected to achieve its 2020 emissions reduction target, albeit by a narrower margin than previously supposed. However, national measures will need to be urgently stepped up to achieve the EU’s new reduction targets for 2030.
Source: EEA, 26 October 2018
The latest ‘Radioactivity in Food and the Environment Report (RIFE)’ was published on 25 October 2018 and shows that doses of radioactivity received by people in Scotland are still within international dose limits.
In the UK, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the Environment Agency (EA), Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) are responsible for ensuring that doses from authorised releases of radioactivity do not pose an unacceptable risk to health.
SEPA is responsible for the radiological monitoring that is carried out in Scotland and has a duty to ensure that no member of the public receives a dose in excess of the statutory dose limit of one millisievert (1 mSv) per year from authorised discharges. It assesses the dose a member of the public could receive, based on a number of factors such as environmental concentrations, diet and activity.
The highest reported dose for a member of the public in Scotland was 0.035 mSv, which is around one-thirtieth of the legal limit. As a comparison, the UK average exposure from all sources (including background radiation) is 2.7mSv, of which 0.44 mSv is from patient exposure to radiation from medical treatments.
The report is available on the SEPA website
Source: SEPA, 25 October 2018
Plans to limit the use of antibiotics on farms were adopted by the European Parliament on 25 October 2018. The restrictions on the use of antibiotics on healthy farm animals aims to keep food free from resistant bacteria and halt the spread of ‘superbugs’ that are resistant to medical treatment.
The new legislation, which will become law by 2022, bans the use of human reserve antibiotics in veterinary medicine and the use of unprescribed animal antimicrobials. Other measures will proscribe the use of antibiotics for performance enhancement or to replace poor animal husbandry, and limit the drug treatment of whole groups of animals when only one is infected.
Source: European Parliament, 25 October 2018
The boards of the UK’s two food regulators, Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA), held their first joint meeting on 17 October 2018, following the publication of the review which makes recommendations aimed at improving compliance and assurance in the UK meat processing industry (see current note 52/4102).
Both boards fully endorsed the improvements for their respective countries. The importance of the review was stressed for managing the culture of the industry and shifting attitudes and behaviours across the UK meat sector to keep consumer interests at the forefront.
It was highlighted that there is an onus on the industry as well as regulators to be ambitious in implementing the plans, and collaborative work will continue to achieve this.
Throughout the discussion, the boards recognised that the majority of the UK meat sector does act responsibly and that many food businesses go above and beyond regulatory requirements.
Source: FSA, 17 October 2018
Ready-to-eat salmon products, such as cold-smoked and marinated salmon, are reported to be the likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that has affected Denmark, Germany and France since 2015. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) used whole genome sequencing to identify the multi-country outbreak.
In August 2017, Denmark reported the first cluster of cases linked to the consumption of ready-to-eat smoked salmon produced in Poland and control measures were implemented. In October 2017, France reported the detection of the same strain of Listeria in marinated salmon originating from the same Polish processing company as identified in the Danish outbreak investigation. The most recent case linked to the outbreak was notified in Germany in May 2018. By 8 October 2018, 12 cases, including four deaths, had been reported in the affected countries.
Due to the lack of whole genome sequencing data from the environmental and food samples taken at the Polish processing plant, it is not possible at present to confirm whether the contamination occurred in the suspected plant. Moreover, until information on the Norwegian primary producers of the salmon used in the contaminated batches has been reported and assessed, the possibility of contamination at primary production level cannot be excluded.
The identification of the same Listeria strain in a salmon product in France and a new human case in Germany suggest that the source of contamination may still be active and that contaminated products have been distributed to EU countries other than Denmark.
The report on the findings can be accessed on the European Food Safety Authority website
Source: EFSA, 25 October 2018
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a rapid risk assessment concerning locally acquired cases of dengue fever in southern France and Spain (see current note 52/4203).
In early October, nine cases of autochthonous dengue were confirmed in the EU, three in Spain and six in France, in three separate outbreaks. These are the first autochthonous dengue cases in continental EU/EEA member states that were reported this year. Prior to these cases, no autochthonous dengue cases had been reported in continental EU/EEA member states since 2017.
Investigations are ongoing, but there is no established epidemiological link between the two outbreaks in France (five cases in Saint Laurent du Var, one case in Montpellier) and it is uncertain whether the cases in Spain were infected in the region of Murcia or in the Province of Cádiz.
Detection of further cases in the affected regions and elsewhere is possible. The risk that visitors to the affected areas may become infected and introduce the virus to their country of residence cannot be excluded. However, historically, dengue outbreaks in Europe have had a maximum of seven reported autochthonous cases and these always occurred during the season of high vector activity. Therefore, the likelihood of onward local transmission and of introduction of the virus from France and Spain into other receptive areas in the EU/EEA with subsequent sustained local transmission is very low.
The rapid risk assessment is available on the ECDC website
Source: ECDC, 22 October 2018
The issue of pork ingredients, such as porcine gelatine, in some vaccines has raised concerns amongst some groups. Public Health England (PHE) has developed a leaflet to provide information about why this product is used in some vaccines and the alternatives that may be available.
The leaflet is available on the PHE website
Source: TRAVAX, 29 October 2018
The first annual report on the uptake of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine among men who have sex with men (MSM) who attend sexual health services in Scotland, was published on 30 October 2018 by Information Services Division (ISD) in collaboration with Health Protection Scotland (HPS). The national opportunistic programme for MSM aged up to, and including, 45 years commenced in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) clinics in Scotland in July 2017. This report provides details on uptake rates in year one of the programme by age group and NHS board. There were 5,905 MSM who received at least one dose of HPV vaccine; this represents a 63.7% uptake rate among eligible MSM attending SRH clinics between July 2017 and June 2018.
The report and data tables are available in the ISD Scotland website
The tables will also be available as supplementary data on the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework (SHBBV) public data portal
Tuberculosis (TB) surveillance was introduced in Scotland in 2000 through the Enhanced Surveillance of Mycobacterial Infections (ESMI) scheme. In 2017, there was a decrease of 7% in both the number of cases and annual incidence of TB when compared with 2016. These represent the lowest number of cases (288) and incidence (5.3 cases per 100,000) reported since enhanced surveillance began. More than one-third (38.6%) of cases reported in 2017 were resident in the most deprived Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) areas. This exemplifies a major issue with TB in the underserved populations within Scotland. A working group has been set up with stakeholders across Scotland in order to work through the complex issues associated with these underserved populations.
In 2017, drug resistance was noted to have increased, with resistance to at least one first-line drug at the start of treatment reported for 21 cases (11.0%). Three cases (1.6%) were resistant to both isoniazid and rifampicin and therefore defined as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Successful treatment outcomes of TB cases first notified in 2016 were increased slightly when compared with 2015 (82% compared with 79%) but narrowly failed to meet the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) target of 85%. Finally, 34 TB cases (12.6% case fatality ratio) were known to have died, which is the highest reported since enhanced surveillance began. Again, this highlights that while there may be a decreasing incidence of TB, it is becoming an increasingly more complex disease to treat.
The report is available on our website