Egyptian seeds most likely source of deadly E. coli

A single shipment of fenugreek seeds may be source of epidemic in Germany which has killed 49 people, infected over 4,100.

July 5, 2011 14:56
2 minute read.
A lab worker in Hungary tests cucumbers

Deadly cucumber 521. (photo credit: Reuters)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


LONDON - A single shipment of fenugreek seeds from Egypt is the most likely source of a highly toxic E. coli epidemic in Germany which has killed 49 people and of a smaller outbreak in France, European investigators said on Tuesday.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said additional European Union member states and other countries had or may have received batches of suspect seeds and urged the European Commission to make "all efforts" to prevent any further consumer exposure.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Germany pins down E. coli: 'It's the bean sprouts'
Germany defends E.coli response as death toll rises to 27

Consumers should not eat sprouts or sprouted seeds unless they are thoroughly cooked, it said.

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.

"The analysis of information from the French and German outbreaks leads to the conclusion that 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.


It said the contamination of the seeds with a highly toxic strain of E.coli had taken place "at some point prior to leaving the importer".

"Other lots of fenugreek imported from Egypt during the period 2009 to 2011 may be implicated," EFSA said, adding that investigations should be carried out in all countries that may have received seeds from the lots concerned.

EU government officials were meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to decide on their response to the investigations.

"Given the possible severe health impact of exposure seems appropriate to consider all lots of fenugreek from the identified exporter as suspect," the EFSA said in a report on its investigations.

The strain of E.coli infections identified in the outbreaks -- known as STEC O104:H4 -- can cause serious diarrhea and in severe cases kidney failure or death.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul
November 20, 2018
Putin and Erdogan celebrate TurkStream gas pipeline as relations warm