The recent E. coli outbreak in Germany that killed 31 people and sickened over 3,000 more has been tracked back to bean sprouts grown in an organic farm in Saxony. The outbreak has been one of the worst in recent European history. In addition to the illnesses caused in Germany, consumers in 12 European countries as well as the United States had been sickened by the tainted sprouts.
When the outbreak was initially reported, it was unclear where the bacteria originated. Initially, German authorities blamed Spanish cucumbers and other European vegetables. These initial fears prompted officials across Europe to block Spanish produce. The bans even reached as far as Saudi Arabia, which blocked importation of all EU vegetables.
The connection to bean sprouts has eased tension within the EU. With most nations lifting their bans on Spanish produce, Spanish farmers are breathing a collective sigh of release. The outbreak has demonstrated the precarious situation that farmers can find themselves. The cucumber bans have cost Spanish farmers nearly $300 million and endangered about 70,000 jobs, all due to an administrative error. German and EU officials have offered the Spanish government compensation and reparations to the tune of $220 million.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer