Deadly E.coli detected on sprouts for the first time

Published: 11/06/2011 05:00



The German state of
North Rhine-Westphalia said Friday it detected for the first time the deadly E.coli
strain o104 on bean sprouts, after they were named the source of the outbreak
by Germany’s national disease control centre.

A notice warning
consumers not to eat raw bean sprouts is seen at a market in Berlin,
capital of Germany, June 10, 2011. The German authority said on Friday
bean sprouts were probably the source of the E. coli outbreak, which has
killed 30 people and infected about 3,000 around the world. Reinhard
Burger, president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s national
disease control center said the Robert Koch Institute was lifting its
warning against eating cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce but keeping the
warning in place for the sprouts. (Xinhua/Ma Ning)

“According to our knowledge, the bean sprouts are coming
from the recent suspicious farm in Bienenbuettel in the state of Lower
Saxony,” said Johannes Remmel, consumer protection minister.

The sprouts were found in an opened package which had been
left in a dustbin of a family, living near the city of Bonn.

Two of the family
members had eaten the sprouts and contracted the E. coli infection in mid-May,
he said.

“The discovery confirms our current warning against the
consumption of bean sprouts. It is therefore becoming increasingly more likely
that bean sprouts are the source of the E.coli infections,” Remmel said.

The news came after Reinhard Burger, President of the
Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said in the morning bean sprouts were the source
for the outbreak based on a epidemiological investigation.

“People who ate (bean) sprouts were found nine times more
likely to have bloody diarrhoea or other signs of E. coli infection than those
who did not,” he said

However, no sample tests had found the o104 strain on bean
sprouts when he announced that conclusion. Laboratory tests have shown Germany
made mistakes in identifying the outbreak source on two previous occasions.

At the same time, RKI lifted the warning against cucumbers,
tomatoes and lettuce.

“Enjoy lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. They are healthy
for you,” said Andreas Hensel, president of the German Federal Risk Assessment
Institute (BFR), which is a co-leader in the action against E. coli.

In the city of Hamburg, an epicentre for the disease,
farmers protested in the city centre by offering tons of lettuce and cucumbers
for free to anyone who wanted them when the news was announced. Suddenly,
pedestrians turned from reluctant to eager takers, reported local news agency


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