EU to lift ban on Egyptian sprout seeds after E. coli scare devastation, no safety evidence provided

Why are outbreaks of foodborne illness, like when 53 are killed and 4,400 sickened from eating sprouts produced in Germany from Egyptian seeds, referred to in media reports as ‘scares.’

This wasn’t a scare, it was a sprout shitstorm. Neither the first nor last.

Afrique en ligne reports the European Union will soon lift a ban on Egyptian sprout seeds after an EU delegation, which just wrapped up a visit to Egypt, produces a report in about 10 days.

Egypt’s Agriculture Export Council chairman, Sherif Al-Beltaguy stated that the national reports from agricultural and health authorities on seeds in Egypt were good and that the EU delegation found them acceptable.

Egypt had denied responsibility for the E.coli outbreak, saying the suspected batch dated back to November 2009 and contained dried seeds, arguing the bacteria could not have survived for so long.

I look forward to some sort of data, especially E. coli testing of germinated seeds.

Sprouts sorta confirmed as cause of German E. coli O104 outbreak; 33 dead; ‘you cannot punish the farm for bad luck’

As the death toll in the German E. coli O104 outbreak rose to 33, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) confirmed test results announced on Friday that identified bean sprouts from an organic farm in the northern village of Bienenbuettel as carrying the virulent E. coli.

A man notified authorities after suspecting he might be in possession of some of the dangerous sprouts. The Bienenbuettel farm has since closed down.

"These results are an important step in the chain of evidence," said BfR director Andreas Hensel.

The EU executive’s health chief John Dalli welcomed the confirmation.

"I welcome this extremely important development: the source of contamination is now identified and the epidemiological findings are backed by laboratory results. EU consumers and trade partners shall now have full confidence as regards the safety of EU’s vegetables."

Speaking on WDR-5 radio station on Saturday, the minister for the environment and consumer protection in North-Rhine-Westphalia, Johannes Remmel, urged all consumers to report any suspicious vegetable sprouts.

But in another premature explanation, Gert Hahne, spokesman for the consumer protection office of Lower Saxony state, said today, "Everything we have looked into until now shows the farm was flawless. It is hygienic and followed all the regulations. No matter how you look at it we don’t see any fault with the farm or legal ground to hold them accountable. You cannot punish someone for having bad luck."

However the farm has been shut down. Authorities say results of tests taken there have yet to place E.coli on site, but that some 500 samples are still being examined — including some from the farm’s seeds, which came from Europe and Asia.

I don’t have confidence because no one is talking about the on-farm food safety steps that are taken other then some opaque ‘strict standards.’ Where did the seeds originate? Were they pre-treated with chlorine before germination or is that not allowed under organic standards? Is anyone checking? What is a suspicious vegetable sprout?

Faith-based food safety at its best.