28 Jun 2011

French-German E. coli link seen in salad sprouts

7:23 am on 28 June 2011

Dutch and British health officials are advising people to avoid raw sprouts and seeds after scientists linked an outbreak of E.coli in France to a highly toxic one in Germany that has killed 43 people.

A British health safety expert says it very unlikely to be pure coincidence that sprouted salad seeds have been identified as the probable source of both outbreaks, Reuters reports.

French authorities say seven people are in hospital in Bordeaux on Monday with one still in intensive care after being infected by the E.coli bacteria.

Authorities say at least two of those affected have been found to have the same rare strain of the infection that has infected thousands in Germany.

Britain's Food Standards Agency said sprouted seeds such as alfalfa, mung beans - usually known as beansprouts - and fenugreek should only be eaten if they have been cooked thoroughly "until steaming hot throughout" and should not be eaten raw.

Health authorities in Germany have linked the epidemic there to contaminated bean sprouts and shoots from a German organic farm sold to consumers and restaurants for eating in salads.

Latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which monitors disease in the region, show that at least 3688 people have been infected in Germany and a scattering of cases across Europe linked to the same outbreak.

Germany has recorded 42 deaths so far, and one person died in Sweden after becoming infected during a visit to Germany.