Friday, June 10, 2011

Germany Reports that Sprouts Were the Source of the E. Coli Outbreak

In a recent blogpost, I wrote about global food supply chains, food safety, and the outbreak of a severe "rare" form of E. Coli in Europe with the epicenter in northern Germany, which has now killed 29 and sickened nearly 3,000.

Today, Germany has concluded that bean sprouts grown in Germany were the source of the E. Coli although it has not been able to identify this particular strain at the source, that is, at the farm(s). According to The New York Times, tests conducted on the sprouts produced only negative results. The decision to blame the sprouts was based on interviews with patients and even restaurant chefs where people had eaten bean sprouts, since it was deemed that those infected were nine times more likely to have eaten bean sprouts than those who had not.

Clearly, further supply chain forensics are needed to be able to fully trace the path(s) that this vegetable product took from the farms to the plates where it was consumed.

Could it have been the trucks that were used for distribution? Or, perhaps, handlers or processors of the sprouts that contaminated the produce? Many questions still remain.

The mystery is not yet solved and until it is more illnesses and deaths can be expected.