Monday, June 6, 2011

Is it sprouts now?

German authorities have now identified sprouts as the putative source of the outbreak of Escherichia coli O104:H4 food poisoning.

This is not the first vegetable claimed to have been the cause - lettuces, tomatoes and Spanish cucumbers have all been suggested as the source, apparently with poor justification,  at one stage or another during the outbreak.  Of course, this has stigmatised the growers and in fact has seriously damaged the whole fresh vegetable market in Europe.  The American military has ceased purchase of any European vegetables for the military commissaries and may arrange an airlift of fresh vegetables from America, thus contributing to global warming and misery for European vegetable farmers. 

I'm not going to comment further on the possible source of the outbreak until I see Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis data linking bacterial isolates from the sprouts and the patients.  This will still not prove that the sprouts are the source, but if the PFGE profile matches, it is strong evidence for a finding.

1 comment:

John said...

"Salmonella treatment" asked if any tests have been done to prove the suggestion that sprouts are involved. At the time of writing, around 46 samples have been tested from the sprout farm; results from half the samples show no O104:H4 contamination. Results from the remaining samples are not yet available.

Of course, testing a month after the initial outbreak might come up with negative results if the contamination were in the seed batch.

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