Thursday, June 30, 2011


It has just been reported that the German and French deadly E.coli outbreaks of this year may have both originated in sprout seeds imported from Egypt. European investigators have cautiously fingered contaminated fenugreek seeds. Apparently these were imported by a single German importer, which then distributed them to other companies, which then sold them to the two farms involved. At least one of these farms has reportedly had to close (the one near Hamburg, Germany) as a result.

The leaders in the investigation have included experts from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Sweden and from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Italy. They have issued a joint statement saying: "The tracing back is progressing and has thus far shown that fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt either in 2009 and/or 2010 are implicated in both outbreaks." I am sure that the previously accused British seeds distributor (see earlier post) has issued a corporate sigh of relief.

But is it unusual for imported seeds to cause outbreaks? No, not at all. Contaminated seeds are the usual cause of contaminated sprouts (see previous 2 posts) and imported seeds have caused a number of sprout-linked outbreaks in several countries over the years. Alfalfa seeds imported from Australia have caused outbreaks in sprouts in the UK, Finland and Sweden. Sprout seeds from The Netherlands have been identified as the cause of outbreaks in the U.S. There are many more cases.

Let's see what more pops up in the next few days.

To your good health.

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