Spain seeks EU response for cucumber damages

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Spain will seek an EU response for damages incurred by suspicions that Spanish organic cucumbers spread a deadly outbreak of E. coli infection, the government said Monday.

"The image of Spain is being damaged, Spanish producers are being damaged and the Spanish government is not prepared to accept this situation," said Agriculture Minister Rosa Aguilar.

"The damages to the Spanish sector are enormous," she told a news conference.

Spain would activate every aid mechanism available within the World Trade Organization, Aguilar said.

"We will also logically request a response within the European Union framework for the damages and we will also ask Germany to assume its proper responsibility," she added.

Germany on Monday called crisis talks after a highly virulent strain of the E. coli bacteria was held responsible for killing 12 people.

The Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has described the outbreak of potentially deadly strain of E. coli as one of the largest worldwide.

Authorities warned against eating raw vegetables after traces of the bacteria were found on organic cucumbers from Spain last week.

But confusion reigned on the source of the outbreak and Spain says there is no evidence so far to prove that the infection started at the vegetables' origin Spain rather than in later handling elsewhere.

Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) 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.

© 2011 AFP

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