German public health authorities sued for summer cuke alert

Public health folks in the city of Hamburg are being sued for €2.3 million (about $3 million USD) after their market was damaged during an outbreak of E. coli O1O4 which was later linked to fresh sprouts. Spanish company Frunet, lodged the claim and is seeking damages for sullying the country’s reputation.

In response to the suit, according to AFP, German health authorities are supporting their summer cucumber warning,

"The Office for Health and Consumer Protection rejects these claims since the warning about the company’s cucumbers was necessary and right," the health office said in a written statement.

Insisting it believed it had taken the right course of action in issuing a warning with the information it had at the time, it said: "Protecting health comes before economic interests of companies."

The European Union provided €227 million in compensation for European producers of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, courgettes and sweet peppers, withdrawn from the market as a result of the disease.

This isn’t a unique lawsuit, earlier this year Del Monte sued the state of Oregon following an outbreak investigation linked to their products.

Paul Mead, of the oft-quoted Mead et al paper (76 million illnesses a year) was once cited as saying, "Food safety recalls are either too early or too late. If you’re right, it’s always too late. If you’re wrong, it’s always too early."

This entry was posted in Food Safety Culture and tagged , , by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.