Europe’s E. coli outbreaks linked to Egyptian sprout seeds

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 4th July 2011

escherichia ColiThe E. coli outbreaks in Germany and France could have come from seeds sourced in Egypt, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said.The ECDC said that fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt in 2009 and/or 2010 have been implicated in both outbreaks.

However, it added on Wednesday (29 June) that there is “still much uncertainty about whether this truly is the common cause of all the infections as there are currently no positive bacteriological results”.

The ECDC said that the O104:H4 strain has been implicated in both outbreaks, indicating a link between the two events.

Some 49 people have died and thousands became ill during the first outbreak in Germany, which started in May. A second outbreak in France last month saw 16 people fall ill in the Bordeaux area.

The Bordeaux outbreak has been linked to seeds sold by UK firm Thompson and Morgan. Thompson and Morgan said yesterday that it is still waiting to hear the results of tests on three varieties of its sprouting seed.

Thompson and Morgan confirmed that its supplier sourced the seeds from Egypt. It said that then sold the sprouting seed was then “exclusively supplied into the French garden centre market”.

However, Thompson and Morgan emphasised that there have been “no positive bacteriological results” that link the organic fenugreek seeds to either the German or French E. coli O104 outbreaks.

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