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The Great Cucumber Debacle

01 June 2011

There have been repercussions across Europe as Spanish cucumbers are cleared: Germany says it regrets the impact on Spanish producers; losses of over €200m a week have been estimated, and Europe is struggling to unearth the source of the contamination

Nick Jacobs, Brussels-based policy specialist at Informa Agra, a leading information service on soft commodities, food and agricultural policy, comments as EU member states clash over E.coli outbreak:

“Preliminary test results in Germany last week pinpointed Spanish cucumbers as a source of the deadly E.coli outbreak. However, further tests have now confirmed that the E.coli strain found on the cucumbers was not the strain which is responsible for the deadly outbreak.

“EU member states are now clashing over who and what is to blame for the German E.coli outbreak which is being linked to up to 16 deaths and hundreds of hospitalisations in Germany and other northern European member states.

“Furthermore, the original test results from Germany sparked import restrictions in a host of member states and a furious reaction from Spain. Spanish sources claim exports worth up to €200 million have already been lost due to the bans.

“Now the question being asked is: who will pay? EU officials told reporters further analysis would be needed in order to judge whether member states had acted disproportionately in restricting Spanish produce.”

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