Spain Seeks E. coli Claim Compensation
The Spanish health minister says Spain will seek compensation after being wrongly accused by Germany of being the origin of a deadly E.coli outbreak that is sweeping Europe.
She spoke as EU health ministers discussed the outbreak at a meeting in Luxembourg.
[Leire Pajin Iraola, Spanish Health Minister]:
„Spain will also ask for compensation for the serious and irreversible economical damages. And we will also ask the Europe Commission to strengthen and improve the mechanisms of the food warning system of the European Union.“
German authorities are racing to identify the source of the disease, which has infected people in 12 countries – all of whom had been traveling in northern Germany – and claimed the lives of 21 Germans and one Swede.
They believe an organic farm in northern Germany producing bean sprouts may be behind the outbreak, and are working to confirm this.
The head of the Koch Institute for Disease Control in Berlin said sprouts – which are a popular health food in Germany – are capable of causing the disease.
[Reinhard Burger, Koch Institute for Disease Control in Berlin]:
„In the past there have been sprout-related outbreaks in various countries in high numbers, for example 2,500 school children were affected in Japan. Sprouts are known for being the cause of E.coli outbreaks. There are a number of examples, but not so many.“
The head of the suspected farm told a German newspaper that he couldn’t understand the accusations that his bean sprouts were to blame, since there are no fertilizers and no animals on the organic farm.
The farm has been closed pending further test results.
The owner of a restaurant identified on Saturday as a possible place where the bug was transferred to humans told Reuters his kitchen had tested negative for the strain of E. coli and none of his staff had fallen ill.
At a news briefing in Brussels, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said there was no reason for a food scare across the EU.
[Pia Ahrenkilde, European Commission Spokeswoman]:
„At this stage no specific alert has been launched in the EU alert system since no lot seems to have been exported either to the EU or to a third country. This will have to be confirmed by the German authorities.“
Investigations are ongoing.