German Officials Again Claim Sprouts As Source Of E. Coli Outbreak
"After days of confusion, German authorities finally concluded on Friday that an E. coli infection, which has claimed at least 29 lives, unsettled the nation and thrown European agriculture into disarray, had been caused by contaminated bean sprouts and not, as first was feared, by other produce," the New York Times reports.
Though no contaminated sprout samples could be confirmed, officials said interviews with patients and restaurants where they had eaten showed those who consumed sprouts were nine times more likely to become infected than those who did not eat them, the newspaper notes. The head of Germany's Risk Assessment Agency, Andreas Hensel, urged consumers to avoid eating sprouts but said they no longer had to avoid cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes imported from Spain, which were originally thought to be the source of infection, according to the New York Times (Cowell, 6/10).
Those initial warnings prompted several countries to ban vegetable imports from Spain, and Russia and some other countries have banned all vegetable imports from the EU, VOA News reports. "After heated discussions Wednesday, EU Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos raised his aid package offer to $306 million to help farmers recoup some of their losses from unsold vegetables because of the E. coli crisis. He had initially proposed $220 million in aid," the news service writes (6/9).