Bean sprouts possible source for E. coli outbreak

Xinhua, June 6, 2011

German authority said on Sunday that bean sprouts might be the "most convincing" source for the E. coli outbreak which has killed 22 people and infected more than 2,000 in the Europe.

Gert Lindemann, Agriculture Minister of the state Lower Saxony, told reporters in a press conference that restaurants and food outlets where the cases of E. coli had been reported all had received shipments of the particular bean sprouts.

A related company in the Uelzen region has been shut down and its products have been recalled, he said.

"It is the most convincing... source for the E. coli outbreak," Lindemann said. Although a conclusive laboratory analysis will not come out until Monday, current indications were strong enough to issue a public warning, he said.

Authorities have been racing to track down the source of the pathogen since the outbreak, which has infected people in 12 countries - all of whom had once traveled in northern Germany. More than 600 of those infected have developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a potentially deadly complication attacking the kidneys.

The source of E.coli was first thought to be the cucumbers from Spain, which has caused huge loses for Spain farmers. However, this conclusion was overthrown by Laboratory tests in Hamburg on Tuesday.