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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

50 Dead in Europe/United States E. coli O104:H4 Outbreak Linked to Egyptian Fenugreek Seed Sprouts

The World Health Organization reported another death today in Germany and confirmed a death in the United Sates (CDC had previously suggested an Arizona death). The death toll now from the E. coli outbreak centered in Germany has risen to 50.

In addition, the Institut de veille sanitaire, France, published new figures for the continuing outbreak in Bordeaux. In total, eight E. coli cases and eight HUS cases were reported since June. E. coli O104:H4 infections have been confirmed in four cases. Also, Sweden reported a confirmed case of E. coli O104:H4 in southern Sweden in an adult male. None of the new cases in France or Sweden were in people who had travelled in Germany since May 2011 (below chart does not include newest German death and Swedish or France outbreak clusters).

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According to government officials and press reports, imported fenugreek seeds from Egypt may well be the source of the E. coli outbreaks according to initial investigations by European scientists. The German outbreak and a smaller cluster of E. coli centered in Bordeaux have both been linked to sprouted seeds. Experts from the Sweden-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Italy-based European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said initial investigations suggested “the consumption of sprouts is the suspected vehicle of infection in both the French cluster and the German outbreak. “The tracing back is progressing and has thus far shown that fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt either in 2009 and/or 2010 are implicated in both outbreaks.”

There has been no information from the FDA if these seeds had been imported to the Untited States.