German minister maintains bacteria warning on sprouts

6th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany will maintain a consumer warning for sprouts as well as tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers despite initial negative tests for a killer bacteria, Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner said Monday.

"The first tests have not shown the bacteria to be present. However I think it is right that the warning be maintained," she told reporters after initial negative results in the northern state of Lower Saxony from tests on suspect sprouts.

"Independent from the evidence from Lower Saxony, the Robert Koch Institute and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment are sticking for now to their guidelines for raw cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, in particular in northern Germany," she said, referring to national public health authorities.

Authorities in the northern port city of Hamburg, the epicentre of the outbreak, had initially fingered organic cucumbers imported from Spain as the source of the contamination but were later forced to retract the statement.

Regional authorities pointed Sunday to organic sprouts from a farm in Lower Saxony as the likely culprit but preliminary test results Monday found no trace of the bacteria that has killed at least 22 people, all but one in Germany.

© 2011 AFP

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