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Wednesday July  6, 12:01

E.Coli: Egyptian sprouts seeds prohibited

The E. Coli caused 51 deaths since mid May (Photo credits: Le Figaro)
The E. Coli caused 51 deaths since mid May (Photo credits: Le Figaro)

European Agency for safety (EFSA) confirmed and signed a 23-page document released yesterday. The experts of the control body based in Parma (Italy) confirmed that a batch of 15 kg of fenugreek seeds "organic" imported from Egypt by a German distributor in December 2009, is the "most likely common link" between the two epidemics caused by the strain O 104 H4 of the bacterium E. coli in Germany and Bordeaux.

Since mid-May, E.coli has been a highly virulent microbe with 51 fatalities (49 in Germany, Sweden and the United States) and more than 4,000 patients, mainly in Germany. Of these 850 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious renal and neurological complication.

According to EFSA, the number of European countries that received lots suspects is "greater than expected." Brussel has asked EU Member States to ensure that all "the seeds from an Egyptian exporter between 2009 and 2011 (to be) withdrawn from the market, tested and destroyed." In addition, cross-contamination is possible, the seeds are sometimes sold as a mixture.

If the seeds of fenugreek (a neighboring plant clover) have been contaminated during production in Egypt, considered the most probable hypothesis by EFSA, the bacteria E. coli have the ability to survive for years under the envelopes of seeds. The addition of water during germination is sufficient, then to the "wake up" and allow them to multiply at an exponential rate in the seed germinated.


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