Brussels, 27 May 2011
E.Coli outbreak in Germany
Commission notifies Member States on one of the sources responsible for the contamination
The European Commission, through its Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), has just notified the 27 Member States about one of the confirmed sources responsible for the STEC (shiga toxin-producing E.Coli) outbreak affecting primarily Germany and, to a smaller degree, four other Member States.
The German authorities informed the Commission earlier this evening that they have identified organic cucumbers from two provinces of Spain (Almeria and Malaga) as one of the sources. Investigations are ongoing in Germany to identify other potential sources, while a third suspect batch of cucumbers originating in the Netherlands and traded in Germany is also under investigation.
The Spanish authorities focus their efforts on pinpointing the exact site of production of the organic cucumbers in question.
The E. Coli outbreak is responsible for two deaths in Germany, while a total number of 214 cases have been recorded there – almost seven out of 10 (68%) concern women. Sweden has reported 10 cases, Denmark four, the UK three and the Netherlands one. The outbreak affects mainly the Hamburg area, while most of the cases reported outside Germany concern either German nationals visiting the other affected Member States or persons who had been visiting Germany.
The Commission notes that EU citizens, who recently visited Germany, should pay attention to symptoms, such as bloody diarrhoea, and accordingly consult their physician.
In the past days, the Commission activated all existing networks created to manage this kind of incidents the moment the outbreak was confirmed earlier this week.
This includes the RASFF and the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) ensuring rapid distribution of information throughout the EU on findings in, and distribution of, possible food sources, and human cases respectively.
Daily meetings of these networks allow for the rapid exchange of all new data between the Member States and different agencies, thus laying the ground for immediate action on the basis of the latest information.
More information on RASFF: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/rapidalert/index_en.htm