Zoonosis surveillance

Zoonoses are diseases that can be transmitted directly from animals to humans. Every year, thousands of Danes fall ill to infections caused by zoonoses such as salmonella and campylobacter. In order to prevent and control the occurrence of zoonotic disease in humans, we need to identify the main animal and food sources of human disease.

The National Food Institute monitors trends in the incidence of foodborne zoonoses. This is done in close cooperation with the authorities involved in surveillance in the farm-to-fork chain. The Zoonosis Centre at the National Food Institute gathers data on human cases of zoonotic disease as well as the occurrence of zoonotic bacteria in food and animals.

Action plans and surveillance programmes

Denmark has a range of surveillance programmes for e.g. animal feed, poultry, pig and cattle production. The programmes are based on EU’s Zoonosis Directive 03/99/EEC, Danish legislation and the industries' own requirements.

The surveillance programmes are continuously evaluated and may be adjusted in accordance with changes in legislation, or based on increasing knowledge and changing demands.

Continuous surveillance

Information on the incidence of zoonotic infections in animals, food and humans is collected continuously in order to provide information and advice concerning the zoonosis situation to authorities, institutions, veterinarians, industry and other stakeholders. Based on the observations, sources of infections are investigated and routes of transmission are sought uncovered. The results are published annually in the Annual Report on Zoonoses in Denmark.

The findings presented here may vary slightly from the figures presented by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and Statens Serum Institut. These discrepancies, which can be explained by differences in calculation routines, are small and insignificant.

Industry own checks

The industry is to a large extent responsible for monitoring and documenting the routines required for complying with the official action plans by following own check programmes approved by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. The ideas behind the own check programme are described by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. The Regional Danish Veterinary and Food Administration Centres oversee the companies through random inspections.

Historical review of the programmes

Read a more detailed description of the changes for each year from 1994 until now in the Annual Report on Zoonoses (in English), Zoonose-Nyt (were published up until 2004 in Danish only), and Statens retsinformation (in Danish only).

For more information about applicable legislation, see EUR-Lex (European Union law) and Statens retsinformation (Danish law).

Collaboration partners

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council
The Danish Meat Association
Faculty of Life Sciences, the University of Copenhagen
The Danish Poultry Council
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
The Danish Livestock and Meat Board
The Danish Dairy Board
The Danish Environmental Protection Agency
Statens Serum Institut
The Danish Health and Medicines Authority 

More info

Watch a short video on zoonoses, which are diseases that can be transmitted from animals and food for humans (video). The video is produced by the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, and explains what is done at a European level to combat zoonotic bacteria and what consumers can do to avoid getting sick from these bacteria.

Research groups


Birgitte Helwigh
Senior Scientific Officer
National Food Institute
+45 40 21 19 62


Birgitte Borck Høg
Senior Academic Officer
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 70 66
7 MARCH 2021