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Friday, June 10, 2011

Germany says sprouts caused E. coli outbreak

Via ABC News :

" Germany has blamed sprouts for the bacteria outbreak that has already left at least 30 dead and 3,000 ill.

"It's the sprouts," said Reinhard Burger, the president of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's national disease centre.

"People who ate sprouts were found to be nine times more likely to have bloody diarrhoea or other signs of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) infection than those who did not."

Dr Burger cited a study of more than 100 people who fell ill after dining in restaurants in northern Germany.

As a result, the government lifted a warning against eating raw tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers.

The advisory, first issued over two weeks ago, has cost vegetable growers in Europe hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales and sparked diplomatic spats across the continent.

German authorities initially fingered cucumbers imported from Spain as the origin of the outbreak.

They later retracted the statement based on subsequent tests, infuriating Madrid and sparking threats of lawsuits.

And the European Union blasted Russia for imposing a "disproportionate" blanket ban on vegetable imports from the 27-nation bloc.

In an attempt to help hard-hit farmers, the EU has offered to pay 210 million euros ($287 million) in compensation.


Dr Burger said the origin of the contamination was believed to be a small organic farm in Lower Saxony which first came under suspicion at the weekend.

"Tests carried out at the farm have proved negative," he said, but evidence still pointed to the farm as a probable source of contamination.

Lower Saxony agriculture minister Gert Lindemann said earlier this week that experts had found no traces of the E. coli bacteria strain at the farm but he did not rule it out as the source of the contamination."

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