Bean sprouts take the blame for E. coli scare

A bacteria culture that shows a positive infection of enterohemorrhagic E. coli, also known as the EHEC bacteria.

BOB MOON: Blame the bean sprouts, after all. German health authorities had their doubts for a while. But now they say they've definitively identified the cause of the deadly E. coli outbreak that's killed at least 29 people and caused financial havoc for farmers.

The BBC's Rebecca Singer reports.


REBECCA SINGER: With locally-grown sprouts labelled the culprits, the German authorities now say tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce are safe to eat. It'll be a huge relief to vegetable-growers across the EU who lost millions of dollars in exports after consumers stopped buying their produce. A problem made worse by a Russian ban on all fresh European vegetables -- which has now been lifted in return for documents certifying their safety.

The European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso says this will happen today or tomorrow.

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO: A system of certification of the vegetable safety by the European Commission will be put in place without any delay. We intend in fact to send the certificate today or tomorrow.

Sprouts had been suspected before, but tests at the German bean-sprout farm earlier this week couldn't find any trace of E. coli. Now, Germany's disease control center says the pattern of illness indicates that those who fell ill did eat bean-sprouts. It's just that original infected batch had probably already been thrown out.

I'm the BBC's Rebecca Singer for Marketplace.

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