The terrifying E. coli outbreak in Europe appears to have been caused by vegetable sprouts grown on an organic farm in Germany, an agriculture official said yesterday as the toll climbed to at least 22 dead and more than 2200 ill.
Preliminary tests found that bean sprouts and other sprout varieties from the farm in the Uelzen area, between the northern cities of Hamburg and Hannover, could be traced to infections in five German states, Lower Saxony Agriculture Minister Gert Lindemann said.
"There were more and more indications in the last few hours that put the focus on this farm," Lindemann said.
Many restaurants involved in what is now the deadliest known E. coli outbreak in modern history had received deliveries of the sprouts, which are often used in salads, Lindemann spokesman Gert Hahne told The Associated Press.
If these sprouts are indeed found to be the source of the e-coli outbreak, there's an element of irony involved. We can't in all honesty describe ourselves as conniseurs of the salad, and sprouts don't feature too often on our shopping list.
But the mere suggestion that a supposedly healthy food cultivated in what is supposedly the most healthy and natural manner might be the cause of what has become a devastating outbreak of a new strain of e-coli suggests that a meat-and-three-veg diet might not be so bad after all.