THE European Food Safety Agency today identified a batch of fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt as the likely suspect in recent E. coli outbreaks in Germany and France.
The EFSA task force set up to track the possible source of the outbreaks said in a statement “that one lot of fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt and used to produce sprouts is the most likely common link between the two outbreaks.
“However, it cannot be excluded that other lots of fenugreek imported from Egypt during the period 2009-2011 may be implicated,” it added.
Egypt’s ministry of agriculture last week denied fenugreek seeds exported to Europe had caused an E.coli outbreak that has killed 50 people, mainly in Germany.
The head of Egypt’s Central Administration of Agricultural Quarantine, Ali Suleiman, said claims by EFSA that seeds exported in 2009 and 2010 may have been implicated in the outbreak were “completely untrue.”
“The presence of this bacteria in Egypt has not been proven at all, and it has not been recorded,” Suleiman told the official MENA news agency.
He said the Egyptian company that exported the seeds in 2009 has stressed in a letter that it had exported the fenugreek to Holland and not to Germany, Britain or France.
The World Health Organisation has said 4050 infections have been confirmed in 14 European countries, the United States and Canada – more than 3900 of them in Germany.
There were 48 fatalities in Germany, one death in the United States, France and Sweden.