Sunday, June 5, 2011

E. Coli, Sprouts, Caution, and Business

The E. coli outbreak - still almost entirely in Germany - is bad. Around 2,500 people may have caught the bug. Numbers vary from one report to another, but it looks like 19 have died so far. Apparently it's "one of largest in history." (Healthy Living blog, KABC)

There's a new educated guess about where the infection came from: bean sprouts from a particular farm.

"Bean sprouts now suspected in E. coli crisis"
The Local (Germany's news in English) (June 5, 2011)

"...Lower Saxony Agriculture Minister Gert Lindemann told reporters on Sunday that health authorities in the state had identified bean sprouts as the likely cause of the bacterial health crisis, which has killed 21 people.

"While a conclusive laboratory analysis was still pending, with results not expected until Monday morning, the Lower Saxony Health Ministry felt the indications were strong enough to issue a public warning against eating such sprouts which are typically used in salads and consumed raw.

"The restaurants and food outlets to which the cases of E. coli had been traced all had received shipments of the particular beansprouts, he said.

"The supplier of the sprouts is based in the Lower Saxony town of Uelzen. Two company employees reportedly were suffering diarrhoea.[!] The firm supplies various types of sprouts including mung bean sprouts, radish sprouts, pea sprouts and lentil seeds.

"The fresh revelation came as German Health Minister Daniel Bahr said the scale of the E. coli outbreak in the country had overwhelmed hospitals in northern Germany. Meanwhile, experts speculated that the pathogen might be linked to biogas facilities...."

Again, it's bad. People have died. Many more are sick.

And a whole lot more are hurting: consumers and suppliers who paid for food they have to toss; and folks who produce sprouts. Or any other sort of vegetable. In Europe.

Because, apparently, one farm didn't pay attention to hygiene.

Unfair? Maybe: but the Lemming realizes that with a potentially-lethal disease, caution makes sense.

Here's some of the economic fallout from the E. coli outbreak:
"Qatar suspends vegetables import from Spain, Germany amid E. coli outbreak"
Habib Toumi, (June 5, 2011)

"Qatar has banned the import of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce from Spain and Germany amid an E. coli outbreak that has killed 19 people.

"The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said it decided to impose a temporary ban on the three products, but would not 'hesitate to ban all vegetables from all European countries if necessary', an official said, Qatari media reported...."

The Lemming hopes that the Supreme Council of Health pays attention - and lifts the ban when the rest of us find out where the tainted food came from.

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