An international row has erupted over the source of Germany’s fatal E. coli outbreak which has now claimed 16 lives.
The death toll also includes the first fatality outside the country. The victim is a Swedish woman who recently visited Germany.
European Union officials have said that the suspected cucumbers could have been contaminated at any point along the route from Spain to Germany.
The killer bacteria was initially linked by Hamburg health officials to organic cucumbers from Spain. But on Tuesday, German state officials revealed that latest tests showed the vegetables did not carry the lethal strain connected to the outbreak.
The news was welcomed by Spain’s Agriculture Minister, Rosa Aguilar: “Germany must now, as soon as possible, provide transparent information so that all of the European Union can know where the problem is.”
Nevertheless, the outbreak is severely straining ties at an EU farm ministers meeting in Hungary with some states threatening to ban Spanish cucumbers.
In response, Spain said it would seek extraordinary measures to compensate the huge losses felt by the produce sector. Spanish farmers said they are losing around 200 million euros a week.