EU bans E. coli-linked Egyptian fenugreek

5th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The European Union on Tuesday withdrew from the market and banned from import Egyptian fenugreek seeds linked to killer E. coli outbreaks in Germany and France.

The decision followed a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that linked a batch of Egyptian fenugreek seeds to the outbreaks that killed 48 people in the two countries.

"Tracing back the origins of the E. coli 0104 contaminations in Germany and France has been a key priority for the EU from day one of the crisis," said health commissioner John Dalli.

"The report published today leads us to the withdrawing of some Egyptian seeds from the EU market and to a temporary ban on imports of all seeds and beans originating from that country," he said.

The commission would continue to monitor the situation closely and would take additional measures if necessary, Dalli added said.

The disease has been blamed on a 15-tonne batch of Egyptian fenugreek seeds imported in 2009 by Germany, and then distributed elsewhere.

The EFSA earlier said "that one lot of fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt and used to produce sprouts is the most likely common link between the two outbreaks."

"However, it cannot be excluded that other lots of fenugreek imported from Egypt during the period 2009-2011 may be implicated," it added.

EFSA recommended "that forward tracing be carried out in all countries which may have received seeds from the concerned lots."

It also advised consumers against growing sprouts for their own consumption or eating sprouts or sprouted seeds unless cooked thoroughly.

© 2011 AFP

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