Bean sprouts are now thought to be the cause of an E. coli outbreak in Germany

Bean sprouts are now thought to be the cause of an E. coli outbreak in Germany

Contaminated bean sprouts are now suspected to have caused the E. coli outbreak that has killed some 22 people across Europe.

The Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection (LAVES) said today (6 June) that it has found a connection between the E. coli outbreak and bean sprouts grown in the German state.

The watchdog said the sprouts were sold to restaurants in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Hesse.

It said that it is also possible that the EHEC-contaminated food products have already been fully-processed and sold on.

The Lower Saxony Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Consumer Protection and Regional Development has called for consumers not to consume bean sprouts until the results of the investigation are revealed later today.

The outbreak, which has killed 22 people and made more than 2,200 people ill, was initially attributed to Spanish cucumbers.

The Spanish government has called for compensation following the allegations, with some trade bodies saying that the Hamburg Health Ministry acted irresponsibly in its accusations and that the resulting export bans cost Spanish farmers EUR200m (US$292.3m) a week in lost sales.