Thursday, June 23, 2011


The E.coli 0104 outbreak is winding down, but it has left a lot of damage behind - political and economic as well as human.

There is still talk of Spain suing Germany over the "killer cucumber" claim which decimated the Spanish cucumber industry and affected other fresh vegetable exports.

A couple of days ago, Germany's Federal Parliamentary president visited Spain for the first time since the incident. But he said Germany is not ready to compensate Spain for the losses suffered, although he did say something about helping to restore international confidence is Spanish veggies (what - another Spanish cucumber munching photo op?).

And it wasn't just vegetable farmers and distributors and vendors in Spain who suffered massive losses, but in other countries as well - The Netherlands, UK and elsewhere. Half of the cucumber crop of the Netherlands is exported to Germany, and the losses have been reported at least at 9M euro a week, during the outbreak.

The UK Fresh Produce Consortium is up in arms, demanding full compensation for their "significant losses and a drop in consumption of salad products due to unfounded and premature claims made by the German authorities..." (quoting Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the FPC). I doubt they are going to get it either.

And then there are all the losses suffered by sprout growers and packers, not only in Germany - where people have been advised not to eat them raw- but also in other countries.

But what about all the human suffering - some of it long term? Let's not forget that apart from the misery of severe illness and fatalites, some people's health has been permanently damaged. A German expert, Dr. Helge Karch, at the University of Muster (quoted in today's New York Times, p.A5), who has been leading a team investigating the outbreak, expects that at least 100 of the victims of this outbreak will need kidney transplants or will have to undergo dialysis for the rest of their lives.

To your good health,

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