Germany defends alert on Spanish cucumbers
Germany's consumer affairs minister, Ilse Aigner, defended last week's precautionary warning against eating Spanish cucumbers, saying Wednesday it had been right to go public before all the facts were in, DPA reported.
Spain is demanding that Germany compensate market gardeners who had to dump tons of produce after the market collapsed over a disclosure that the cucumbers were soiled with EHEC, a germ that causes diarrhoea, kidney damage and sometimes death.
On Tuesday, German laboratory tests found 16 recent deaths were the fault of a different strain of EHEC from that found on the cucumbers.
"EHEC germs were in fact found on the Spanish cucumbers. That meant a quick warning had to be published under European rules," Aigner said on ZDF breakfast television. She said the German authorities in Hamburg "did just the right thing."
Scientists are now back to square one in the hunt for the source of the deadly new strain of EHEC, or enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli.