Spain wants EU solution, slams Berlin in cucumber crisis

31st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spanish Agricultural Minister Rosa Aguilar called Tuesday for a "European solution" and slammed Germany's handling of a deadly bacteria outbreak blamed on imported cucumbers.

The situation is "extremely serious" for the agriculture sector, Aguilar said upon her arrival at an informal meeting of EU agricultural ministers in Debrecen, eastern Hungary.

She estimated the loss caused to vegetable sales in Spain which came to a virtual halt to reach "more than 200 million euros a week".

"We need a European solution to a European problem," she said.

"Today, we have to present the issue as a common problem and have to ask for a compensation not only for Spanish producers but for all the European producers concerned by the situation.".

Several countries including The Netherlands saw their vegetable exports to Germany come to a complete halt in the wake of the deadly outbreak.

"We are disappointed by the way Germany handles the situation," Aguilar said, citing in particular "very unfortunate" declarations of German public health authorities "which pointed at Spanish cucumber and Spain as the origin of this infection without having reliable data".

Germany is represented by its secretary of state in the ministry of agriculture Robert Kloos, with agricultural minister Ilse Aigner staying behind in Berlin to manage the crisis.

Meanwhile the death toll of the outbreak of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) found on imported cucumbers rose to 14 in Germany.

Several hundred more are being treated in hospitals for the highly virulent strain of bacteria, which can result in full-blown haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a disease that causes bloody diarrhoea and serious liver damage and which can result in death.

The first fatality outside Germany came Tuesday when a woman died in Sweden after becoming infected in Germany, a Swedish hospital said.


Click here to read a report on the deadly Germany E. coli strain found mainly in humans.

© 2011 AFP

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