Officials investigate French E. Coli outbreak

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 28th June 2011

escherichia ColiHealth officials are investigating a fresh outbreak of E. coli in France, with a possible link to UK seed firm Thompson and Morgan.

The UK firm has suspended internet sales of its rocket and mustard vegetable sprouts after ten people were affected by E. coli in Bordeaux.

The recent E. coli outbreak in Germany, one of the largest the world has seen, killed dozens and sickened thousands. The outbreak was attributed to contaminated beansprouts.

This latest outbreak is currently being investigated by French and UK authorities. A statement by the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) at the weekend said it was revising its guidance on the consumption of sprouted seeds such as alfalfa, mung beans (usually known as beansprouts) and fenugreek.

As a precaution, the agency advised against the consumption of sprouted seeds unless “cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout”.

To date, no cases of food poisoning have been reported in the UK linked to the outbreak in France.

The FSA said it is in close contact with the Health Protection Agency which is actively monitoring the situation.

In a statement this morning, a spokesperson for Thompson and Morgan said that the link between the outbreak and the consumption of its sprouting seeds is “unsubstantiated”.

“In particular, we note the confirmation by French Secretary of State for Consumer Affairs, Frederic Lefebvre that no link between the E. coli symptoms and the eating of sprouting seeds has been established,” the spokesperson said.

“We note that the French outbreak seems to be localised to a specific event, which would indicate to us that something local in the Bordeaux area, or the way the product has been handled and grown, is responsible for the incident rather than our seeds.”

The firm said it is co-operating fully with the UK Environmental Health Department to help them in their enquiries in eliminating possible sources of the outbreak.

Results of tests are expected within the next few days.

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