Shoppers across Europe are growing more and more concerned by the deadly E. coli outbreak, which has claimed 15 lives and made more than 1,000 people ill in Germany as well as consumers from Spain, Sweden, France and Russia.
Cucumbers produced in Spain are suspected of being at the centre of the worsening public health situation.
In Paris one fruit and vegetable seller explained the situation: “No one is buying. Even if the cucumbers are from France and not from Spain nobody wants to eat them. It is simple, we usually sell one hundred a day and now we sell two or three a day and we are not buying any more from the wholesalers.”
It is a similar situation in Italy; there are not only health issues, but massive economic consequences as almost the whole of Europe has stopped buying fresh Spanish produce.
One French shopper echoed the feeling across Europe: “Cucumbers, no I don’t buy them anymore, because I am afraid.”
Austria has seen a few people fall ill as a result of the bacteria, but all are said to have recovered.
Doctor Pamela Rendi-Wagner, Austria’s Director General of Public Health and Medicine, said: “We are observing the situation in Austria. What we have observed so far are two imported Ehec-cases from Germany. They were diagnosed last week, but they are fine, they have been released. They have not developed any complications so far.”
Cucumbers are extremely popular in Russia and Moscow is blocking the entry of cucumbers from Spain.
“If there is a ban that is the right thing to do, if people are getting poisoned that’s the right thing to do,” said one Russian market stall holder.
Spanish cucumber producers are threatening to seek compensation from the EU due to the profound impact the crisis has had on their business.
Cucumber sales plummet as E.coli fears spread