A German organic farm has been linked to bean sprouts contaminated with the E. coli outbreak. The toll climbed to at least 22 dead and more than 2,200 sickened. Suspicion in recent days fell on lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, perhaps from Spain.
Preliminary tests found that bean sprouts and other sprout varieties from the farm in the Uelzen area, between the northern cities of Hamburg and Hannover, could be traced to infections in five German states, Lower Saxony Agriculture Minister Gert Lindemann said.
“There were more and more indications in the last few hours that put the focus on this farm,” Lindemann said.
Many restaurants involved in what is now the deadliest known E. coli outbreak in modern history had received deliveries of the sprouts, which are often used in salads, Lindemann spokesman Gert Hahne told The Associated Press.
Definitive test results should be available Monday, Lindemann said.
In recent days, as health officials tried to pinpoint the source of the unusually lethal outbreak, suspicion fell on lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, perhaps from Spain. Spanish farmers complained that the accusations were having a devastating financial effect.
“First it’s the ‘evil’ Spaniards, and then you hear, very surprised, that it is our neighbor,” said Dietrich Benni, who lives near the German farm. “It’s a bit scary all of this, especially that it is coming from an organic place.”
He added: “No more organic food for me for now.”
The German farm was shut down Sunday. Produce such as bean sprouts and potatoes have been recalled. Two of its employees were also infected with E. coli.
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