• 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
Man arrested in Wuppertal as part of Spanish Isis raids
Police detain the suspect in Wuppertal. Photo: DPA

Police have arrested five suspected members of an Isis cell in Spain, Belgium and Germany that spread propaganda for the group online, the Spanish interior ministry said Wednesday.

Germans cut home energy usage by six percent in a year
Hamburg at night. Photo: DPA

The Energiewende is the German government's ambitious policy of drastically reducing carbon emissions. New figures show one remarkable success.

Merkel party MP under fire for using Nazi propaganda term
Bettina Kudla. Photo: Büro Bettina Kudla MdB/DPA.

A member of Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party is in hot water after tweeting over the weekend a Nazi propaganda term in her criticism of the country’s refugee policies.

Govt denies planning bailout for troubled Deutsche Bank
Photo: DPA

Germany's finance ministry on Wednesday said the government was "not preparing rescue plans" for Deutsche Bank, denying a newspaper report that state aid was being considered for the embattled lender.

Munich at high risk of housing bubble: report
A view of Munich. Photo: Pexels.com

Considering buying property in Munich? This report might make you think twice.

After fatal hail storm, south Germany set to see sun
The hail storm in Baden-Württemberg on Monday night left the streets looking like a winter landscape. Photo: DPA.

A hail storm in southwest Germany on Monday night led to the death of one woman, but forecasters predict a bit more sun in the days to come.

Police shoot dead father who attacked daughter's abuser
Police at the scene of the shooting in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

Berlin police on Tuesday night shot and killed the father of a young girl at a refugee home as he tried to attack a man who allegedly sexually abused his daughter.

TV celebrity criticized for claiming 70 kg is overweight
Sophie Thomalla. Photo: DPA

Model Sophie Thomalla claimed that promoting models who weigh over 70 kg sets as dangerous an example as skinny supermodels.

UK files show how Spanish spy tricked Nazis over D-Day
Photo: DPA

Secret files released in Britain Wednesday shed new light on how a Spaniard dubbed the greatest double agent of World War II tricked Germany with false intelligence about the D-Day Normandy landings.

Pegida take to Dresden streets - to march against Pegida
Pegida demonstrators. Photo: DPA

Followers of the xenophobic Pegida movement marched in two factions on Monday evening in the capital of Saxony, brandishing fierce accusations of treason against one another.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,591
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd