German authorities suggested today (10 June) that bean sprouts produced in the country were the source of the deadly E. coli outbreak.
In a joint statement, the Robert Koch institute, the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment said that despite investigations not finding E. coli on bean sprouts from a farm in the German town of Bienenbüttel, epidemiological studies found that people who had eaten the spouts were nine times more likely to have bloody diarrhoea. Additionally, in a study of people who became ill, 100% had eaten sprouts.
The authorities said that supplier relationships from restaurants that served the bean sprouts point to the Bienenbüttel farm as being the source.
Some 27 people have died from exposure to STEC and almost 3,000 people have become ill.
The Robert Koch institute, Germany’s food safety body, said it was lifting its recommendation that consumers avoid cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, but continuing to advise consumers to avoid bean sprouts.
The authorities originally blamed Spanish cucumbers for the outbreak. The European Commission has proposed an EUR210m (US$303.8m) compensation deal for farmers affected by the crisis.