Friday, 27 May 2011

Europe on alert for Spanish cucumbers and tomatoes

Escherichia coli
EUROPE/SPAIN (Agencies) The headlines this morning were crowded with cucumbers and tomatoes from Spain. According to Spanish media, there were three deaths and some 600 people ill in Germany attributed to the deadly E. coli bacteria that came in cucumbers from Malaga, according to the Hygiene Institute of Hamburg. The Minister for Health for Hamburg, Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks (SPD) announced that the bacteria was found in three cucumbers so far. Of the 600 diagnosed with the bacteria poisoning, 140 have Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) found in the type of E.coli called Ehec, which is highly toxic to humans. The Minister said that other products could also be infected, and warned that all vegetables should be thoroughly washed, particularly if they come from Spain (all products within the EU must say where they come from on the label). While this bacterial infection is not unusual, the speed with which it spread through Germany in 10 days has caused considerable alarm, especially in the media. The BBC reported this afternoon that there were 'at least four dead' and another '200 are affected'. The Spanish Government is carrying out its own investigation, although an official statement this morning said that it was too early to be certain that the cucumbers came from Spain.>

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