LONDON - Europe banned imports of all seeds and beans from Egypt on Tuesday after food safety investigators said a single shipment of fenugreek seeds from there was the most likely source of a highly toxic E. coli epidemic which has killed 49 people.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said beyond France and Germany, where outbreaks of the deadly E. coli strain have made thousands ill in recent months, other European Union countries may have received batches of suspect seeds.
More than 4,100 people in Europe and North America have been infected in two outbreaks of E. coli infection, one centered in northern Germany and one focused around the French city of Bordeaux.
Almost all of those affected in the first outbreak, the deadliest on record, lived in Germany or had recently traveled there. The infection has killed 48 people in Germany and one person in Sweden.
"An imported lot of fenugreek seeds which was used to grow sprouts imported from Egypt by a German importer is the most common likely link," the EFSA said in a statement.