• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Deadly E. coli found in Spanish cucumbers

The Local · 26 May 2011, 17:38

Published: 26 May 2011 14:12 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 May 2011 17:38 GMT+02:00

German supermarkets were on Thursday afternoon pulling Spanish cucumbers off their shelves in response to the scare.

The contaminated vegetables were sold at a Hamburg market, Hamburg’s Health Minister Cornelia Storck said.

Of four cucumbers found to be carrying the bacteria, three came from two separate Spanish suppliers while the origin of the fourth was unknown. One of the contaminated cucumbers was an organic product.

At least three people have died during the outbreak and other deaths are suspected to be related to the bacteria. Roughly 140 people are considered by health authorities to have been severely sickened during the outbreak. Most of the roughly 600 cases of E. coli reported so far have been centred in northern Germany, particularly in the Hamburg area.

The strain of E. coli gripping Germany is a particularly virulent one, said Helge Karch, a researcher at the University Hospital of Münster, whose team discovered the identity of the strain and is developing a test to more easily detect it.

The discovery is “an important step in the search for paths of transmission,” Karch said.

The public health authority, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), encouraged people to avoid eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce for the time being.

That prompted cafes and bakeries in the north of the country to abandon salad en masse, spurring a noticeable drop in vegetable sales on Thursday.

Kurt-Henning Klamoth, president of the German Farmers Federation (DBB) accused the media of scaremongering and condemned speculation that the illness has been spread through organic fertilizers.

Health officials cautioned that they were still looking for a definitive cause and emphasized that more deaths were likely.

“We must expect to lose patients," said University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf kidney specialist Rolf Stahl.

The country’s largest supermarket chain, Metro – which operates Real, Metro Cash & Carry and Galeria Kaufhof – along with Kaiser’s Tengelmann and the Rewe Group have all stopped sales of the vegetables.

Metro plans as a precaution to stock only cucumbers from other countries.

Discounter Aldi Nord said it doesn’t normally stock Spanish cucumber anyway but it has taken other vegetables and fruits from Spain such as spinach leaves off its shelves anyway.

Aldi Süd, which operates in the south of the country, said it saw no need to take action for the time being because it did not believe any of its products were affected. Spain is Germany’s second biggest supplier of cucumbers within the European Union, sending 179,500 tonnes of the vegetable to Germany in 2009, according to the Federal Office for Agriculture.

Meanwhile European Union officials expressed concern that the outbreak would soon spread beyond Germany's borders. The bloc was expected to soon declare a special alert, which would authorize EU members to take special action to protect their populations, such as putting restrictions on German vegetable imports.

Story continues below…

“It’s a matter of time until the hazardous E. coli pathogens jump to other EU countries,” European Parliament Committee for Health and Food Safety chairman Jo Leinen told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

As a pre-emptive measure, the bloc was expected soon to declare a special alert, which would authorize EU members to take special action to protect their populations, such as putting restrictions on German vegetable imports.

The latest death to be definitively linked to the outbreak was a 41-year-old woman from Cuxhaven on the North Sea. Hamburg health authorities said they were determining whether a 38-year-old man found dead in his apartment on Tuesday may have been killed by E. Coli.

The Local/DAPD/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

11:20 May 26, 2011 by Simon_Kellett
In other news 11 people died on the roads yesterday: experts called on citizens to avoid going on the roads until they are made safe.
14:37 May 26, 2011 by elboertjie
Better yet Simon_Kellett, war was declared on car manufacturers and the military is bombing them for humanitarian reasons to keep us safe on the road.

I wonder if this is not economic warfare/blackmail on Spain with regards to forcing them into accepting more debt and implementing more severe austerity measures as opposed to defaulting or leaving the euro.

A case of: 'Unless you do what we say, here is a small sample of things to come'.
14:45 May 26, 2011 by freechoice
take it easy people!! it's not rapture yet...

well at least not yet...
15:17 May 26, 2011 by auniquecorn
elboertjie, I actually thought the same thing.
15:50 May 26, 2011 by Johnne
Oh God, Spain is in trouble.
17:30 May 26, 2011 by JDee
most likely they used manure to fertilise the plants in the greenhouses, and German bakeries don't usually wash the bits of lettuce and cucumber they put in brotchen....but the root cause of e-coli is still industrial farming methods, not vegetables!
17:53 May 26, 2011 by anurag_bagaria
I wonder, how come this supply from Spain to Germany has reached only one particular region / city. I am more than sure that the consignment should have reached other regions too and since no ill news from other cities, the cucumbers alone could not be the reason for this.
20:09 May 26, 2011 by steffsteff
I totally agree with you anurag_bagaria.
20:41 May 26, 2011 by _scythe_
A common sense approach to not-home-grown, unprocessed food is to peel the skin, if possible.

On another note, now vegetables in Germany are not only tasteless, but deadly.
21:04 May 26, 2011 by wenddiver
Suggest you live off Energy drinks, Coca-Cola, Chocolate, Marshmellows, McDonalds and Cigarettes like the US and avoid foods that are capable of rotting or other things found in nature.
00:07 May 27, 2011 by Rocho
Mmmhhh...

So perfect German people couldn't guess where the fourth cucumber came from?... How strange... And also you talk about two different Spanish providers... what a coincidence!... This smells like something in the DIVINE distribution and store chain INSIDE Germany, in Hamburg was, ... dirty?, not so clean?...

But now the damage is already done, people ill or died, and your finger ALWAYS point towards the same place: Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland.
00:13 May 28, 2011 by fromstuttgart
Turns my stomach every time I go into a cafe in Germany and watch the bare hands moving from food item to food item, coffee machine, back to pretzels and bread, wipe off on stained apron, go to the back to do who knows what, and back out to handle more food. Or the doner guy who wipes his hands on his dirty apron and jams a pita into that hand to slice it open; wipes his brow, and goes back to touching the food going into your lunch.
Today's headlines
What we know about the Reutlingen machete attack
Police arrest the attacker. Photo: DPA

... and what we don't.

Munich shooting
Police arrest possible accomplice of Munich gunman
Mourners in Munich. Photo: DPA

Authorities in Munich believe that a friend of the teenager who murdered nine people at a Munich shopping centre may have known about his plans.

Ansbach suicide attack
What we know about the Ansbach suicide bomber
The attacker's rucksack. Photo: DPA

He had had his asylum application rejected and had twice attempted suicide, say authorities.

Ansbach suicide attack
Suicide bomber attacks bar in Bavaria
Photo: DPA

A Syrian migrant set off an explosion at a bar in southern Germany that killed himself and wounded a dozen others late Sunday, authorities said, the third attack to hit Bavaria in a week.

 'One dead and two injured' in Germany machete attack
News channel NTV said there were scenes of panic in the city centre following the attack. Photo: DPA

A 21-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker killed a woman and injured two people with a machete Sunday in the southwest German city of Reutlingen in an incident local police said did not bear the hallmarks of a "terrorist attack".

Munich gunman planned attacks for one year: officials
Vigils continue in Munich to commemorate the victims, seven of whom were teenagers. Photo: DPA

The teenage gunman who killed nine people in Munich on Friday had been planning his attack for a year, according to German authorities.

Germany grapples with enigma of Munich gunman
A debate is already underway as to whether Germany's gun laws, which are already strict, should be tightened further. Photo: AFP

Investigators were seeking clues on Sunday into the mind of gunman David Ali Sonboly, the teen author of one of Germany's bloodiest killing sprees.

Munich shooting
 Social media a blessing and a curse in Munich shooting
The Munich gunman may have hacked a Facebook account to lure some of the victims to the McDonald's fast-food outlet where the shooting began. Photo: DPA

Social networks were both a curse and a blessing in the deadly shopping mall shooting in Munich, as police sometimes found themselves chasing fictitious leads and false alarms.

Munich shooting
Munich pulls together after shopping mall shooting
Photo: DPA

In the chaos after the Munich mall shooting, city residents spontaneously offered shelter to strangers - a move that Chancellor Angela Merkel said showed that Germany's strength lies in its values.

Munich shooting
Merkel deplores 'night of horror' in Munich
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Munich had suffered a "night of horror" after a shooting spree in the southern German city left nine people dead.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,742
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd