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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 8 December 2021

E.coli outbreak: It is the sprouts after all say German authorities

One official described finding the source of the outbreak as being like a “crime thriller where you have to find the bad guy”.

The E. coli outbreak has been linked once more to bean sprouts like these.
The E. coli outbreak has been linked once more to bean sprouts like these.
Image: Jeff Moore/Jeff Moore/Empics Entertainment

Updated 1.20pm

GERMAN AUTHORITIES HAVE said this morning that the E. coli outbreak that has so far killed 31 people in Europe is being caused by vegetable sprouts despite several previous u-turns on the actual cause of the bacteria.

The head of Germany’s national disease control centre has confirmed that locally-grown bean sprouts are the source of the outbreak.

The news came as the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 31 people had now died from the E. coli outbreak – 30 in Germany and one in Sweden.

Over 3,000 people across Europe – mostly in Germany – have been affected by strains of the bacteria.

Officials initially blamed cucumbers imported from Spain, then bean sprouts from an organic farm in Lower Saxony for the outbreak before saying that neither were responsible for the deadly bacteria.

There was even a suggestion yesterday that bacteria found on cucumbers in Germany could have been behind the outbreak.

Now Reinhard Burger, head of Germany’s centre for disease control said:

It’s the bean sprouts.

He added that an epidemiological investigation into the pattern of the outbreak had produced enough evidence to draw the conclusion that it was indeed bean sprouts from the organic farm in Lower Saxony that caused the outbreak, reports BBC News.

AP reports that the breakthrough in the investigation came after a task force from the three institutes linked separate clusters of patients who had fallen sick to 26 restaurants and cafeterias that had received produce from the organic farm.

Helmut Tschiersky-Schoeneburg from the consumer protection agency said:

It was like a crime thriller where you have to find the bad guy.

Andreas Hensel, head of the Risk Assessment agency added:

They even studied the menus, the ingredients, looked at bills and took pictures of the different meals, which they then showed to those who had fallen ill

Hensel said authorities were lifting the warning against eating cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, and explicitly urged consumers to start eating those vegetables once again.

In a separate development Russia agreed to lift its ban imports of fresh vegetables in return for guarantees from the European Commission on food safety.

- additional reporting from AP

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Hugh O'Connell

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