Salmonella is the most common foodborne pathogen in African food exports to the European Union: Analysis of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (1999–2019)

Yinka M. Somorin*, Olumide A. Odeyemi, Collins N. Ateba

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Global food imports, including those from Africa, constitute an integral part of the food chain in the European Union (EU) and a potential source of food hazards. Foodborne pathogens are among the food hazards that do not only impact on public health but also have economic implications for exporters. The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) is an important tool for reporting and communicating food safety risks among EU Member States and EEA countries. This study aimed to identify the common foodborne pathogens in foods originating from African countries to the EU between 1999 and 2019 by analysing RASFF notifications. A total of 596 notifications were reported by 19 countries due to the presence of pathogenic microorganisms (PM) in food originating from 27 African countries. The highest number of notifications related to Greece (n = 228) and most of the PM notifications were border rejections (60.6%). PM notifications increased from 17 (2016) to 46 (2017) and 173 (2019). Salmonella was the most predominant pathogen notified, accounting for 523 (87.8%) of PM notifications. Over half (52%) of the Salmonella notifications were from foods originating from Eastern Africa, followed by Western Africa (n = 145; 28%), and the country with the highest Salmonella contamination was Sudan (n = 182). The most important product category contaminated with Salmonella was “nuts, nut products and seeds” (n = 343), with majority (n = 335) being sesame seeds. Evaluation of the RASFF risk decision listed for each notification showed that 97% of Salmonella-contaminated sesame seeds posed serious risks to consumers. African countries exporting food products to the EU must strengthen their food safety systems to prevent the huge economic losses resulting from non-compliance with EU food safety standards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107849
Number of pages7
JournalFood Control
Early online date29 Dec 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 29 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Africa
  • Food export
  • Food safety regulations
  • Foodborne pathogens
  • RASFF notifications
  • Trade barrier

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science

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