While you should still be careful about bean sprouts, it seems it is safe to go back to eating salads again. Europe’s month-long e-coli scare left at least 33 people, nearly all German, dead and some 3000 ill in 12 countries, costing farmers hundreds of millions of euros.
Germany says one organic farm near Hamburg in Lower Saxony is the source. The farm, a specialist bean sprout producer, has been shut down.
But not before a much-criticised investigation by the German government failed to pin down the source of the contamination. Initially Berlin pointed the finger at Spanish cucumber growers, a mistake that could cost them dear.
“We’ll draw all the lessons learned from this crisis later. We recognised as soon as possible the error in identifying a specific product from one country, namely Spain, and we’re trying to correct this, “ said EU spokesman Eric Vincent.
Germany’s hasty blaming of Spanish farmers went against EU food alert rules. Spanish cucumber growers say they lost 225 million euros a week as a result. German growers say it cost them 60 million a week, the Dutch say 70 million. Other country’s farmers also saw their sales fall off a cliff as tomatoes and leafy salads were blamed as well.
The EU has offered an aid package of 210 million euros.
In all the crisis may cost half a billion euros; only goats are happy, feasting on produce no-one could sell.