Spain wants Germany to pay for false killer cucumber accusation
European Union agriculture ministers are holding a crisis meeting on Tuesday in Luxembourg to discuss the outbreak of the deadly E coli bacteria which has left 23 people dead. Ministers are to discuss aid for farmers who have been badly hit due to growing consumer fears over the spread of the bacteria.
Madrid is to ask for full compensation from Germany for the losses which the country’s fruit and vegetable exporters association, Fepex, estimates at 225 million euros a week since the crisis began at the beginning of May.
“If it covers 100 per cent which is what we are demanding, the affair will be closed,” said Spain’s Agriculture Minister Rosa Aguilar on Monday. “Otherwise we reserve the right [to take] legal action.”
Meanwhile the search continues for the origin of the E coli bacteria after tests on suspected sprouts at an organic farm in north Germany were negative.
German Federal Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner said Berlin would maintain warnings against eating sprouts as well as tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers particularly in the north of the country.
But the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment said it was possible the source of the contamination would never be found.
The rare and virulent bacteria strain is found in the digestive tract of humans rather than of cattle, according to Lothar Beutin, an expert at the institute.
He told Tagesspiegel newspaper he believes it unlikely the bacteria could have been passed on by liquid manure from animals
Similar outbreaks in Japan between 1996 and 2003 infected more than 10,000 people and left 22 dead, according to the Japanese health ministry.
In Germany, 1,601 patients have been diagnosed as infected and a further 630 with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening condition involving kidney malfunction, the Robert Koch Institute said