According to the AP, German officials have retracted statements linking a lethal E. coli outbreak to sprouts from an organic farm in northern Germany. In what is now the second retraction in a week, officials said that there is no evidence that sprouts caused the outbreak of the rare strain, which has so far killed 22 people and sickened more than 2,330 people across Europe.
The announcement came a day after Lower Saxony's agriculture ministry held a news conference to announce that they had linked the E. coli to an organic farm in the northern village of Bienenbuettel, had shut down the farm, recalled all of its produce, and advised Germans not to eat sprouts. And that announcement came after German officials announced last week that the outbreak had been linked to Spanish cucumbers. It turns out that was a different E. coli contamination.
As vegetables are being thrown out all over Europe, there is still no verified source for the current E. coli outbreak. "This investigation has been a disaster," said Michael Osterhold, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Meanwhile, there have been four E. coli cases here in the U.S. linked to the strain, all involving patients who had recently visited Hamburg, Germany.
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U.S. FDA spokesperson Siobhan DeLancey told Reuters yesterday that there are no indications that the U.S. food supply has been contaminated by E. coli. This particularly deadly strain, at least.