German bean sprouts cleared of E coli in Germany
Jun 6, 2011, 13:44 GMT
Berlin - Initial laboratory tests have failed to discover any E coli bacteria on 23 out of 40 bean sprout samples taken from a market garden in Germany suspected of spreading the germ, officials announced Monday.
The finding sends researchers back to square one in the hunt for the germ, enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), which has killed at least 21 people, most of them women, attacking their kidneys and nervous system.
The findings were announced in Hanover, northern Germany by the Lower Saxony state agriculture ministry, the same institution which had rushed out the news on Sunday that bean sprouts from the grower had been implicated in many of the illnesses.
The statement held out some hope that EHEC might still be found in the seeds used to grow the bean sprouts.
'Based on findings so far in examination of some of the samples, we think we will have to do some very intensive analytical work if we are to prove that the suspected agent is really there,' the statement said.
While type O 104 EHEC might still turn up on the remaining 17 samples taken from the property or in retail packs of its sprouts made several weeks ago, the hunt for the cause of the illnesses is not going well.
One victim, who says he ate the bean sprouts, has discovered a second, unused pack of the sprouts in his refrigerator and has handed it to authorities for testing, although it is well past its sell-by date.
Last week, organic cucumbers from two farms in Spain were fingered as the cause by authorities in the state of Hamburg. But the authorities admitted a few days later that the cucumbers were not soiled with type O 104 E coli after all.