Austria takes Spanish cucumbers off shop shelves

29th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Austria said Sunday it has taken Spanish cucumbers off the shelves of some 30 stores amid an outbreak of bacteria poisoning blamed for 10 deaths in neighbouring Germany.

The AGES health agency said 33 Austrian stores had received deliveries of vegetables sourced from Spanish distributors suspected of having exported products contaminated with enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC).

The recall involves cucumbers, but also tomatoes and aubergines, the agency said in a statement.

It urged consumers who had already purchased products from the Spanish distributors "not to eat them, but to throw them away."

The EHEC strain of bacteria causes potentially fatal haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS).

Germany's national disease institute has so far confirmed two deaths from HUS, with eight other deaths suspected to have been caused by the same disease.

More than 270 people have contracted HUS in Germany in recent weeks, compared with the normal annual figure of about 60.

The epicentre of the outbreak has been in northern Germany, but cases have also been reported in France, Sweden, Denmark, Britain, Switzerland, Austria and The Netherlands.

The European Commission said Friday that organic cucumbers grown in Spain's southern provinces of Almeria and Malaga had been confirmed as a source of the outbreak.

But Germany said Sunday the source of the poisoning outbreak has yet to be pinpointed.

In Austria, two cases of poisoning have been confirmed among German tourists. Their condition has improved, and one has been discharged from hospital, according to the health ministry.

© 2011 AFP

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