German scientists are under growing pressure to isolate the source of a rare E.coli strain believed to be the cause of a food poisoning outbreak that has killed at least 17 people and infected more than 1700.
Experts are now dismissing early claims that Spanish produce was to blame.
Professor of Bacteriology at Aberdeen University Hugh Pennington said: “Clearly this is a German problem. It is German food that has caused the outbreak. It may be entirely a German problem, not food produced anywhere else and imported into Germany.”
Chinese biologists have analysed the bacterium’s DNA, and say it is a new strain that is highly infectious and toxic.
Scientists believe the outbreak cannot be contained without pinpointing the exact source.
Russia has demanded that as just one precondition for lifting its ban on the import of European fresh produce.
Germany has set up an emergency task-force to deal with the outbreak. Official advice there is not to eat raw vegetables.
And although Spain appears to be off the hook, the original accusation is still taking its toll.
“Everyone has blocked produce coming from Almeria in the south,” said one businessman. “We’re at a complete standstill.”
The toxin produced by this E.coli strain can cause the destruction of red-blood cells and kidney failure.
But it is not just damaging human health. The food industry is having to ditch valuable produce until there is an official all-clear.