The European Commission is tackling salmonella poisoning as the number one priority in a new food safety crackdown, reports Irish Independent. The objective is to cut the 166,000 annual cases of the illness in Europe by bringing in new controls affecting producers of breeding poultry, laying hens, broilers, turkeys and pigs. Salmonella can lurk in raw eggs, poultry, pork, beef and other meat and dairy goods, and the Commission's proposals would tighten current food safety legislation to prevent the spread of the infection via food, if it is approved by members. Member states would have to adopt national control programmes and impose pathogen reduction targets on producers, starting with breeding flocks of chickens from 2005, laying hens from 2006, broilers from 2007 and to turkeys and breeding pigs from 2008. Other measures include tighter control for other foodborne diseases such as E. Coli and listeria. Marketing restrictions are also planned from 2008 for table eggs from flocks suspected of or confirmed as harbouring salmonella, and poultry meat will have to comply with new microbiological criteria from 2009. "The fact that many people suffer every year from food-borne illness, which is sometimes fatal, does not appear to get major media attention," said food safety commissioner David Byrne.