Friday, June 3, 2011

E.Coli outbreak: clear shops of German food to cut risk, says leading microbiologist

British supermarkets should withdraw German produce from their shelves to reduce the risk of an outbreak of a deadly strain of E. Coli, one of Britain's leading microbiologists has said.

As four more cases of the food poisoning bacteria were diagnosed in Britain yesterday, retailers were continuing to import vegetables including cauliflower, sweetcorn and cabbage from Germany despite concerns that the highly toxic bacteria is being spread by contaminated produce.

Tesco and Lidl confrmed that they had "small quantities" of German produce in their stores.

Hugh Pennington, an emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said: "They [the supermarkets] should take a safety first approach and if it is a small amount of produce they should remove it from the shelves. This is a very dangerous bug because a surprisingly large proportion of the people who have been infected have gone on to develop nasty complications."

The World Health Organisation yesterday confirmed that there has been the first case of the bacteria spreading from person-to-person.The individual from Norway became infected after coming into contact with someone who had visited North Germany.

Andrea Ellis, an epidemiologist at the World Health Organisation, said: "There has been a case identified where there has been person-to-person transmission. It is something we worry about with any kind of bacteria." (read more)