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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: TV/radio » Deadly food products hit Europe

version: 14 / updated: 2011-05-30
id: #1754 / version id: #1750
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Rafael Popper
List of all contributors by versions (mouse over)
Last changed by: Rafael Popper
WI-WE status:
unpublished archived

Source of inspiration

Television/radio (e.g. programmes and publicity)

The source of the Weak Signal is


Uploaded reports, images or pictures related to the Weak Signal

File name File type File size
E.coli cucumber image 47548 open

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Deadly food products hit Europe

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
Health officials say the virus, believed to have originated from organic cucumbers imported from Spain, has killed 10 people and infected hundreds more in Germany. The epicentre of the outbreak has been in the country's north with more than 270 people contracting the disease in recent weeks - four times the normal annual figure of about 60. Three cases have also been reported in Britain, a further 25 in Sweden and seven in Denmark. In Austria there have been two cases, while the Netherlands and Switzerland have each had one suspected case. All of the cases are understood to have been linked with travel to Germany.


E.coli, bacteria, food trade, cucumber, virus, Germany, Spain


(max. 250 characters)
The world's biggest outbreak of a deadly form of E.coli bacteria has claimed another life as it continues to spread across Europe.

Signal's first apperance


Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 Emergence of portable devices for rapid food-fitness inspection. new/emerging
very beneficial

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

European governments and food authorities (e.g. European Food Safety Agency) may increase food inspection and quality control processes.


please specify
please select
Level 1: important for a particular country Germany, Spain
Level 3: important for the European Union
Level 4: important for the whole world

Filters preventing the signal's monitoring

institutional filters (rules, laws, regulations)
economic filters (business/market interests)
scientific filters (knowledge/technology access)

Comments on selection:

Heterogenous food safety regulations across Europe.

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Environmental Outbreaks of Eschericha coli or E.coli are normally associated to faecal contamination of water supplies.
Values/Ethical/Cultural Poor hygiene and contaminated food handlers can also cause E.coli.

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
before 2015 Depending on the virulence properties of different strains of E.Coli, the risks go from diarrhoea to death. A major E.coli outbreak can potentially create the conditions for more harmonised food safety regulations in Europe.

Potential stakeholders' actions

short-term actions
(after 2015)
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) Tighten food safety regulations.
Business actors (incl. SMEs) Food producers and handlers need more effective hygiene regimes. Safe systems of work for food processing/handling need to be in place.
Academic/Research sector Further research on the impact of strict food safety procedures on food production and trade.

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Food security and diet

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology

Pan-European strategies influencing the signal

please justify:
particularly relevant
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer
Fostering and facilitating coherent international cooperation in science and technology

Research-friendly strategies potentially improving understanding of the signal

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here
please justify:
particularly relevant
Addressing cohesion through a localised articulation between supply and demand
(e.g. making research institutions more engaged with their own context and local users; reinforcing knowledge flows into and out of regions; etc.

Signal's relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
The fact that deadly food products are able to reach several European markets suggests that (1) further research is needed on environmental (e.g. climate change) and possible socio-economic factors influencing food borne diseases and (2) more effective food-fitness screening technologies may need to be developed/implemented in order to avoid major E.coli outbreaks in the future.