The market place is the frontline where the battle is being fought to regain consumer confidence.
Spanish cucumbers may have been given a clean bill of health. But with many wary shoppers still playing it safe, there are warnings that Spain’s horticultural sector could be wiped out.
“For us, the most important thing is to recover trust and sales and recover the market,” said Lorenzo Ramos, Secretary General of Spain’s Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers. “If there is no trust, no sales and the market does not recover, the sector will disappear.”
All but one of the more than 20 E.coli-linked deaths have been in Germany where shoppers are proving particularly cautious when it comes to buying veg.
“People are not buying any cucumbers or tomatoes right now. They have not got any confidence but they might have good reasons for that,” said one man interviewed at a market in Berlin.
Some, however, are still eating their greens.
After rinsing cucumbers with hot water, scrubbing them, peeling them and scrubbing them again, a shopper at the market declared they could be eaten.
“I am not that paranoid,” he said. “With a little bit of hygiene, it is absolutely fine.”
That is all very well but farmers and traders hope such precautions will soon be replaced by a return to full confidence in their fresh produce.