Seized Spanish cucumbers bacteria-free says Italy

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Initial tests on Spanish cucumbers seized in Italy have revealed no signs of the killer bacteria responsible for 17 deaths, Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio said on Wednesday.

"Initial checks carried out in our country on what has been called the 'killer bacteria' of cucumbers have come back negative," said the minister.

Authorities recently seized 1.6 tons of cucumbers from Andalusia for checks. They will complete further tests later Wednesday or on Thursday.

Fazio said the results "seemed to confirm" the conclusions of health officials in Hamburg, who said on Tuesday the contamination did not come from imported Spanish cucumbers.

Spain is threatening to sue for damages after the German city pointed to its cucumbers as the source of the outbreak of E.coli that has killed 16 people in Germany and one in Sweden.

Danish food authorities meanwhile withdrew their advice to avoid cucumbers from Spain on Wednesday.

"German food officials and the European Commission concluded on Wednesday that the Spanish cucumbers suspected of being the source of the E.coli epidemic in Germany are not contaminated with E.coli," the Danish Veterinary and Food Agency said in statement.

"For this reason the agency is lifting its previous notice on Spanish cucumbers," it said.

The agency said it continued to advise against consuming cucumbers from the north of Germany however.

Fazio urged Italians on Tuesday to wash Spanish cucumbers thoroughly before eating them, saying there was "no danger" if basic hygiene rules were observed.

© 2011 AFP

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