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Brussels, 31 May 2011

E. coli outbreak in Germany on decline as test results on suspect cucumbers come out

The European Commission has been informed that the results of tests on cucumbers made by the Hamburg (Germany) authority responsible for Food Safety did not confirm the presence of the STEC serotype O104, which is responsible for the outbreak, despite the fact that the sampled cucumbers tested positive for STEC. Cucumbers were considered as one of the possible sources responsible for the Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli (STEC) outbreak affecting Germany and other Member States. The results of tests on other samples are pending.

In the latest meeting today of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, the European Commission and Member States discussed the situation and a statement was endorsed by all Member States. (see MEMO/11/367)

Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli said: "This issue is an absolute priority. The European Commission is coordinating with Member States and is working with the German authorities, in particular, to ensure that the source of the problem is identified in order to be able to propose relevant solutions. The agreed statement of all Member States demonstrates the joint commitment to cooperation, vigilance and solidarity on this matter. It is positive that the number of new infection cases seems to be declining but all authorities must ensure continuous surveillance, which is crucial at this stage, as we are still working to pin down the possible source of contamination and eliminate risks for public health."

Citizens are advised to apply common hygiene rules to limit the risk of contamination: fruit and vegetables need to be washed thoroughly. Wash your hands before preparing food or eating, and after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Wash thoroughly knives, plates and other utensils.

According to the latest information, the STEC outbreak is responsible for nine (9) deaths in Germany and one (1) in Sweden.

In Germany, a total number of 1,169 cases have been recorded, out of which 373 developed the Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). Sweden has reported 41 STEC cases out of which 15 developed HUS, Denmark 14 STEC cases (six with HUS), the Netherlands seven (7) cases (three HUS), France six (6) STEC cases, the UK reported three cases (two HUS), Austria reported two (2) STEC cases and Spain one (1) case. Switzerland has also reported two STEC cases

More information:

MEMO/11/367: Statement on the E. Coli outbreak issued by the Member States at the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) - 31 May 2011

Specific webpage on DG SANCO website:

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