Saturday, June 25, 2011


The latest hot topic in our global food supply is the recent outbreak of E.coli food poisoning in a suburb of Bordeaux, France. There is fear that it is linked to the recent huge outbreak of super-toxic E.coli in northern Germany that originated in bean sprouts. According to French investigators and officials, the cause here is also raw sprouts. And, the seeds used by the French sprout grower came from a venerable British seed company, Thompson & Morgan, which has been around for more than a hundred and fifty years (and has a wonderful blog - with all kinds of useful advice).

According to Wikepedia this company distributes its catalogues not just in the UK, and France, but also in Germany - and in the U.S. These catalogues are available through mail or can be requested directly from the company by telephone or via their websites. The New York Times also reported today that their seeds are sold in the U.S. I do buy vegetable seeds, but do not recall ever purchasing any of their so can't say for sure.

Again IF this company is the source of the French outbreak (and maybe even the German one - and no one knows yet), and IF an outbreak in sprouted seeds also occurs in the U.S. (which I hope doesn't), it wouldn't be the first one we have had from imported sprout seeds. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) describes two sprout contamination incidents that occurred in the U.S. in 1995, both eventually traced to seeds imported from the Netherlands. There have been others.

Let's hope it's just another case of "Round up the usual suspects" (as in that memorable line from Casablanca) and it turns out in the end to be something the gazpacho cook did, which doesn't have international repercussions.

To your good health!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the outbreak can be traced to the seeds, it's another example of the dangers of globalisation. This is while congress is debating cutting the budget of the FDA and the USDA. Penny wise, pound foolish.