Disease-causing microorganisms in general

The National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark plays a central role in terms of research, monitoring, consultancy and educational activities concerning foodborne pathogens.

Consumers and society as a whole generally expect that consumption of food should not give rise to disease. Nevertheless, the presence of pathogens in food causes a significant number of infections in humans each year.

Bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and verotoxin-producing E. coli are typically transferred from a reservoir in the livestock production through faecal contamination, water or production environments to food. Other microorganisms such as Norovirus and Shigella spread from human reservoirs to food production or to food while preparing it at in restaurants or at home.

The frequency of food contamination by pathogens varies greatly between the different types of pathogens as well as production methods and food types.

The activities at DTU are focused on the entire production chain from farm to consumer (also called 'from farm to fork') and include both experimental projects that generate primary data collection and the processing of monitoring data from the industry and government.


Statens Seruminstitut
Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
Danish Agriculture and Food Council
University of Copenhagen
Aarhus University

More information

Watch a short video what a foodborne virus is, how it is spreads and what food producers and consumers can do to prevent it from spreading (video). The video is produced by the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA.

A number of other short videos from EFSA give an overview of different disease-causing bacteria and the steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick from these bacteria.

Watch the video about E. coli, which explains how the bacteria is a natural part of the human gut microbiota, but how certain disease-causing types – most commonly found in beef, unpasteurized milk and raw fruits and vegetables – can cause serious illness (video).

Watch the video about listeria bacteria, which are found on all raw foods to some extent. The video explains what is done at a European level to monitor the bacteria (video).

Watch the video about salmonella, which explains how the bacteria is transmitted from animals to humans and what is being done at a European level to combat salmonella in the whole farm-to-fork chain (video).

Watch the video about campylobacter bacteria, which cause the greatest number of foodborne diseases in Europe. It explains how the bacteria spread especially from raw chicken to humans and what is done at a European level to bring down the level of campylobacter in the chicken production (video).

An infographic from EFSA  shows how many cases of foodborne disease are attributed to different disease-causing bacteria and how many cases are caused by different types of food (pdf).



Dorte Lau Baggesen
Head of Division
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 62 07


Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen
Head of Research Group, Professor
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 62 78
4 MARCH 2021