Spain, Germany clash on cucumber deaths
SPAIN has accused Germany of spreading alarm and needlessly damaging trade after blaming a deadly E coli outbreak on cucumbers imported from Spain.
Countries across Europe have been clearing their shelves of Spanish cucumbers, but Madrid insisted that there was no proof that they had caused the outbreak. Leire Pajin, the Spanish health minister, said no cases of poisoning had been reported in Spain and urged Germany to speed up its inquiry and establish proof of what had caused the illness. She said Germany's allegations "create alarm and affect the producers of a country without any evidence".
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland was last night awaiting confirmation as to whether a batch of organic cucumbers contaminated with deadly E Coli bacteria had reached the Irish food chain.
Health authorities in Germany confirmed that 11 people had died and more than 1,000 had been infected in what was described as one of the worst outbreaks of its kind. The E coli bacterium can cause severe diarrhoea and, more seriously, blood clots in the digestive system, which can cause kidney failure and death.
Cases have also been reported in Sweden, Denmark and Holland. In Britain, three people were taken ill, although they are German nationals and are believed to have contracted the illness in Germany. (© Daily Telegraph, London)