Europe studying British link to French E. coli cluster

25th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

European governments are investigating suspected E. coli poisoning in France traced to an English vegetable sprouts producer for links to the killer outbreak in Germany, the European Commission said on Saturday.

"No formal European alert has been launched at this point, one that would mean a ban on sales" of the products concerned, a spokesman for health commissioner John Dalli said.

However, "there is an exchange of information under way between France, Britain and Germany" after 10 people were infected near Bordeaux, south-western France.

Health authorities there said tests had shown two out of seven patients hospitalised were infected by the same strain of the disease as that found recently in Germany, which has killed 43 people in Europe.

A French government minister said the sprouts were purchased at a Jardiland garden centre and were produced by Thompson & Morgan based in Ipswich, England.

France ordered the company's sprouts, mustard and rocket to be withdrawn from sale and asked the health authorities in England to conduct an analysis.

"If it is shown that the company distributed its produce elsewhere in Europe, an alert at European Union level can be triggered," the commission spokesman added.

Last week seven children were hospitalised in the northern French city of Lille with E. coli poisoning thought to have been caused by eating frozen hamburgers.

A Belgian boy also received intensive care in another unrelated case, before his condition eased.

© 2011 AFP

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