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Friday, June 3, 2011

European Commission warns against misplaced E. coli blame

Via DW World, excerpt :

" The European Commission has warned against an early allocation of blame in the recent German outbreak of the E. coli bacteria, after Germany prematurely pointed the finger at Spain.

Recent warnings by German authorities against vegetables from Spain were declared premature Wednesday after it was found that Spanish cucumbers were not responsible for an outbreak in Germany of the bacteria E. coli.

But the German backtrack came too late for many Spanish farmers after the warnings turned countless consumers off Spanish agricultural products. Now, the matter of compensation is hanging in the air.

If a European Union member state identifies a suspected contamination of food, it is obliged to warn the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

The RASFF has been in place since 1979 and brings several non-EU states into its fold. In 2009, there were around 8,000 alerts, only around 500 of which were serious warnings regarding food already on the market.

A step too far

But in the view of EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, Germany went too far with its naming of a specific suspect country in Spain, a suspicion which turned out to be wrong."

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