Digital News Report – German officials say that locally grown bean sprouts likely caused the E. coli outbreak that has killed 19 people in Europe. Initially, German authorities said that the strain of Escherichia coli originated in Spanish cucumbers. Spanish officials said the accusation cost their exporters $200 million per week.
Germans are being told not to eat sprouts until further notice. The Agriculture Ministry for the northern state of Lower Saxony is testing the sprouts and said this could be the cause of the outbreak.
This is one of the worst food-borne outbreaks in years. On May 2nd the German government initially reported a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). It wasn’t until June 2nd that officials confirmed that they had found a new strain.
There have been 530 confirmed cases so far and 1,251 suspected cases in 14 countries. There have been four confirmed cases in the United States, but the disease originated in Germany. The U.S. cases involved either German nationals or people who have traveled from Germany.
Most E coli illnesses are considered mild, but some strains can be very dangerous.
E coli is not the only illness found in food. Salmonella, the second most common food-borne illness after Campylobacter, is found primarily in raw milk and eggs, meat and poultry.
Russia has banned the import of fresh vegetables from the European Union.
By: Jason Chang
Photo: Bean sprouts