Sprouts Likely E. Coli Culprit

E. coli source expected to be officially confirmed Monday

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The mass E. coli outbreak sweeping Germany that has sickened moire than 2,200 and killed 22 is now believed to be linked to organic vegetable sprouts grown in Germany.

Early tests results pinpointed bean sprouts and possibly several other varieties of sprouts. Agriculture minister for Lower Saxony Gert Lindemann said during a press conference on Sunday that evidence points to a plant nursery south of Hamburg that has since been closed and all of its produce recalled. Two employees at the farm have been sickened.

In the meantime Germans have been asked to refrain from eating bean sprouts, though the source is not expected to be officially confirmed until Monday. Authorities are still maintaining a warning against eating tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce unless the source is confirmed.

"German produce recalled includes fresh herbs, fruits, flowers, potatoes and bean sprouts."

Lindemann said studies seem to indicate a plant nursery in Uelzen in the state of Lower Saxony, south of Hamburg, may be responsible for the bacteria, though that remains unconfirmed. The nursery grows a variety of sprouts with seeds imported from numerous countries. Types of sprouts include adzuki, alfalfa, broccoli, peas, lentils and mung beans. All of the varieties were grown for use in salads.

Lindemann said the outbreak likely stemmed from growing the sprouts with steam in barrels at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, an environment ideal for bacteria. He also mentioned a possibility that the water was contaminated with E. coli or that the sprout seeds contained the germ when they were purchased -- either from Germany or another country.

Earlier Spanish farms had been blamed for the outbreak.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 5, 2011
Last Updated:
June 6, 2011