Our WHO CC provides technical input to support WHO in developing health estimates on foodborne diseases and informs about WHO’s work to support Member States on microbiological hazards/risks in food.

The WHO CC has expertise in detecting human pathogenic parasites, viruses and bacteria as well as faecal indicators in food. The WHO CC has expertise in Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment used to estimate public health risks from exposure to human pathogens in food.

Within 2022-2027, the activities include:

  1. Support WHO to provide scientific advice on microbiological hazards/risks in food
    The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meetings on Microbiological Risk Assessment (JEMRA) began in 2000 and is an international scientific expert group administered jointly by FAO and WHO. Our WHO CC support activities related to JEMRA. The WHO CC will continuously work on improving and developing Quantitative Microbiological Risk Assessment (QMRA) models.
  2. Support WHO to conduct studies to gather information and data required for estimating the global burden of foodborne diseases

    a. Burden of Disease
    Foodborne infections encompass acute and chronic syndromes with varying duration and severity, as well as mortality. Risk-based food safety management (i.e. decisions on control, prevention and surveillance) requires a consistent, quantitative assessment of the relative public health importance of foodborne diseases. As such, we express the public health impact of foodborne pathogens on the burden of disease. The  ‘burden of disease’ is an international measure for the number of healthy years of life lost to disability or premature mortality and it is expressed in DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years). RIVM estimates every year the burden of 14 different foodborne pathogens.

    b. CODEX
    The Codex Alimentarius is a collection of internationally adopted food standards and related texts presented in a uniform manner. These food standards and related texts aim to protect consumers’ health and ensure fair food practices. The Codex Alimentarius Commission has 189 Codex members and each member is responsible for identifying and presenting new scientific and other relevant information to facilitate the appropriateness of existing Codex standards or related texts. The Codex includes standards for all processed, semi-processed or raw foods for distribution to the consumer. It also includes provisions for food hygiene, food additives, residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs, contaminants, labelling and presentation, methods of analysis and sampling, and import and export inspection and certification. As a member of the Codex Alimentarius, RIVM is committed to review as necessary the Codex standards and related texts to ensure that they are consistent with and reflect current scientific knowledge and other relevant information. 
  3. Foodborne disease burden epidemiology reference group (FERG)
    The global burden of foodborne diseases is reported regularly, and the WHO CC will report by 2025 the latest national, regional, and global burden of foodborne diseases. This work is supported by the technical advisory group, Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG). Our WHO CC will support WHO's work by conducting studies to gather information and provide technical advice on calculating the global burden of foodborne disease. To support WHO in disseminating relevant research articles related to FERG’s work, the WHO CC maintains a list of other resources on FERG deliverables published externally (repository of journal articles online).

Leading staff and expertise

Leading staff Expertise
Elisa Benincà, PhD Burden of Disease
Marieke Opsteegh, DVM, MSc, PhD Veterinary epidemiologist, foodborne zoonoses, Burden of Disease
Rob de Jonge, PhD Microbiologist
Joke van der Giessen, DVM PhD Veterinary Microbiologist, Parasitologist, One Health
Prof. Ana Maria de Roda Husman Global changes and Environmental Infectious Diseases