Food watchdog says no E.coli cases in Britain

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Britain's food watchdog said Saturday there were no cases of E.coli poisoning in the country after France linked vegetable seeds sold by a British company to a French outbreak.

"No cases of food poisoning have been reported in the UK linked with the outbreak in France," the Food Standards Agency said in a statement.

"We have asked for further information from the French authorities... to help us carry out investigations in the UK," it added.

Frederic Lefebvre, French secretary of state for consumer affairs, on Friday linked seed sprouts sold by British company Thompson & Morgan to ten suspected cases of E.coli poisoning in Bordeaux, southwestern France.

The majority of those taken ill were hospitalised, suffering from bloody diarrhea.

While health officials said tests showed two people were infected by the same potentially deadly strain of E.coli as that found recently in Germany, they have not said whether there is a link between the two outbreaks.

Lefebvre called for the Thompson & Morgan's mustard and rocket seed sprouts to be withdrawn from sale while an analysis was conducted.

However he stressed that "the link between the symptoms and eating of the sprouts... has not been definitively established."

Thompson & Morgan, based in the town of Ipswich, eastern England, have not yet responded to AFP inquiries over the accusations.

An outbreak of a killer strain of E. coli bacteria in Germany has killed at least 43 people, health authorities there said. That outbreak is blamed on organic vegetable sprouts grown in northern Germany.

© 2011 AFP

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