Bean sprouts grown in a German organic farm have been one in a number of vegetables blamed for an outbreak of E. coli that has killed at least 27 people and sickened hundreds in Europe.AP
Germany later blamed sprouts from an organic farm in the country’s north as the source – but tests later discounted those claims. About 23 of the 40 samples taken from the German sprout farm tested negative for the relevant bacteria, though further tests are pending.
The E. coli outbreak in Germany has killed at least 22 people and sickened more than 2,300 across Europe, leaving customers uneasy about eating raw vegetables.
In Spain, two Spanish farm associations said orders for fruit and vegetable exports are up a bit Monday after Spanish produce was cleared last week.
But representatives of the ASAJA and COAG farm group both said it will take time to win back consumer confidence and they remain angry with Germany for blaming Spain without confirmation.
They had no firm figures but say farmers lost millions of euros in lost produce sales, transport and other industries also took a hit and many jobs were lost.
Spanish farmers complained that early accusations against Spanish cucumbers were still having a devastating financial effect.
"This is one of the demands we have been making, that they say clearly where the problem with the bacteria was," said Andres Gongora, the leader of a major Spanish farm association, COAG. "So we feel more at ease, although at no time did we ever harbor any doubt."
Gongora added: "With the same intensity with which it accused us, Germany must now clarify beyond the shadow of a doubt that that problem was not here, that it was not with Spanish agricultural products."
As farmers demand they be compensated for their losses, the European Union on Tuesday will hold an emergency meeting of farm ministers in Luxembourg to address the crisis and its economic impact, including a ban by Russia on all vegetables from the EU. The ministers will "look at how the EU can respond to the economic impact of the crisis," EU spokesman Roger Waite said.
At a regular meeting of EU health minister in Luxembourg on Monday, Germany defended itself against claims it had acted prematurely in pointing toward Spanish cucumbers. "The virus is so aggressive that we had to check every track," said Health State Secretary Annette Widmann-Mauz. "We owe it to the people."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.