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E. coli toll on produce growers

brussels bureau

E. coli toll on produce growers


All over Europe, people have lost their appetite for fresh vegetables, no matter where they have been grown.

A Berlin open air market was bereft of its usual crowd. Producers’ associations in The Netherlands, Italy, France and Belgium —to name just a few— are measuring the past few days’ sales losses in millions of euros.

“We want to know where it comes from,” said one Berliner shopping for groceries. “It’s not just about Spanish produce.”

The head of the German farmer’s association, Gerd Sonnleitner, noted that blaming vegetables for the deadly E. coli had devastated the farm sector, while at the same time had failed to stop the spread of the illness. Even tested, ‘certified good’ harvests are slated for automatic destruction.

Grower Dirk Beckedorf said: “We have no idea how we’ll manage. We could go under. We’ll keep our staff till the weekend, but then we’ll have to cut half of them. It’s just impossible to pay them. The officials haven’t confirmed that our stuff is immaculate, they’re just issuing a general warning not to eat vegetables raw.”

Some farmers are not wasting any time. They have got in their tractors and are ploughing the crop into the soil not bothering to harvest it.

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brussels bureau