Europe’s number one producer of cucumbers, Spain, has slammed Germany, after Berlin cast its suspicions on Spanish exports linked to the deadly E. coli bacteria outbreak.
While the pathogen has been identified on cucumbers imported from Spain, it has not been discovered whether they were contaminated there, on their way there or in Germany.
After German authorities ordered some products removed from store shelves, Madrid objected that the damage suffered by producers was already irreparable.
A government official for Spain’s southern Andalusia region, Clara Aguilera, said: “No EU country can ban a product on its territory. That’s up to the European Commission. Germany, Austria and Finland’s decisions are completely illegal.”
As the infection sustained growing fears in several countries, food safety was taken up at a meeting of the EU’s Agriculture ministers in Debrecen, Hungary.
Germany’s Deputy Minister of Food, Dietrich Guth, was there. He revealed the continued doubt after crisis talks held in Berlin: “We have some indications that it’s coming from Spain, but it’s up to now, not clear, because it could also happen on the transport, so our authorities are trying to find the real source, but it’s not yet clear.”
Germany has warned its consumers to avoid eating cucumbers, lettuces and tomatoes. It imports some 182,000 tonnes of cucumbers per year from Spain, according to the most recent German figures.