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EFSA and ECDC Change Published Risk Assessment because “some key partners involved felt that it may unnecessarily harm the company to publish its name while the investigations (into E. coli O104:H4 Outbreak) are still ongoing”

A few days ago I posted – again – about the ongoing tragedy in Europe and the Untied States on the most deadly, and one of the largest, E. coli outbreaks in history. Although European officials (mostly German) originally pointed to Spanish cucumbers as the source (and also urged everyone to not eat tomatoes or lettuce), sprouts and then sprout seeds (specifically fenugreek seeds) came under suspicion after E. coli O104:H4 illnesses surfaced in France in people who had not visited Germany.

Screen shot 2011-07-01 at 10.28.14 AM.pngOn June 29 the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control published these paragraphs regarding the traceback investigation:

Food trace-back investigations at the EU level (original version)

… The tracing back is progressing and has thus far shown that fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt either in 2009 and/or 2010 by the company AGA SAAT GMBH are implicated in both outbreaks. There is still much uncertainty about whether this is truly the common cause of all the infections as there are currently no positive bacteriological results. In particular, the 2009 lot appears to be implicated in the outbreak in France and the 2010 has been considered to be implicated in the German outbreak. …

All this is being further investigated. In particular, an investigation on the distribution of seeds from these lots throughout Germany and Europe by AGA SAAT has been urgently requested. The export by AGA SAAT of some of its imported seeds to another company in the UK (from where seeds were exported to France) demonstrates the necessity of this information. …

Then, without notifying the public, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control edited and republished those same paragraphs to read:

Food trace-back investigations at the EU level (edited version)

… 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 is still much uncertainty about whether this is truly the common cause of all the infections as there are currently no positive bacteriological results. In particular, the 2009 lot appears to be implicated in the outbreak in France and the 2010 has been considered to be implicated in the German outbreak. …

All this is being further investigated. In particular, an investigation on the distribution of seeds from these lots throughout Germany and Europe has been urgently requested. The export of some of the seeds imported from Egypt to another company in the UK (from where seeds were exported to France) demonstrates the necessity of this information. …

The changes, according to Caroline Daamen in External Communications for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, were made because:

In the initial risk assessment posted on the website, EFSA and ECDC reported information that had been made available to support the ongoing outbreak investigation. However, some key partners involved felt that it may unnecessarily harm the company to publish its name while the investigations are still ongoing. So it was thought more appropriate to remove the name of the company from the final report.

We hope that this helps to clarify why the name of the company is not included anymore.

I would love to see or hear the emails, correspondence and phone calls between EFSA and ECDC and AGA SAAT GMBH.

Enjoy the email back and forth between me and AGA SAAT GMBH counsel:

Von: Bill Marler [mailto:bmarler@marlerclark.com]

Gesendet: Freitag, 1. Juli 2011 18:39

An: Philipp Giesen

Betreff: Demand of deletion

Wichtigkeit: Hoch

Can you confirm that this email from you is accurate?

Also, please note attached and below:

thank you very much for your e-mail.

In the initial risk assessment posted on the website, EFSA and ECDC reported information that had been made available to support the ongoing outbreak investigation. However, some key partners involved felt that it may unnecessarily harm the company to publish its name while the investigations are still ongoing. So it was thought more appropriate to remove the name of thecompany from the final report.

We hope that this helps to clarify why the name of the company is not included anymore.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions on this matter.

Best regards

Caroline Daamen

External Communications

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control |SE-17183 Stockholm | Visiting address: Tomtebodavägen 11a

________________________________________
William D. Marler, Esq.
Marler Clark
The Food Safety Law Firm
1301 Second Avenue, Suite 2800
Seattle, WA  98101-3808
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Main Line:                    (206) 346-1888
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This electronic transmission is intended for the addressee or entity indicated above.  It may contain information that is privileged, confidential, or otherwise protected from disclosure.  Any review, dissemination or use of this transmission or its contents by persons other than the addressee is prohibited.  If you have received this transmission in error, we respectfully request that you notify us immediately and erase all copies of this transmission.  Thank you.

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——————————-

From: Philipp Giesen <Giesen@rellermeyerpartner.de>
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 2011 19:03:22 +0200
To: Bill Marler <bmarler@marlerclark.com>
Subject: AW: Demand of deletion

I sent this email:
 
Dear Sir or Madam,

 we indicate that we represent the legal interests of the agaSAAT GmbH, Pascalstrasse 11, 47506 Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany. Proper authorization will be assured by us.

 In your article on your website http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food-disease/news/jun2911fenugreek-br.html our client is wrongly brought in connection with the supply of possibly EHEC contaminated seed. So far, in the context of intensive inspections neither in the case of supplies to our client nor in the case of supplies of our client EHEC exciters were determined.

 Nevertheless, already – by itself – the nomination of the name of our client in connection with possibly EHEC contaminated seed is suitable for damaging her reputation. Therefore, we request you to delete immediately the name of our client fromyour above article.

 We look forward to the confirmation of the deletion until the 2nd of July 2011.

 We also reserve our right to take further legal measures against you.

 Sincerely,
 Dr. Philipp Giesen

Nothing else. The name of our client is still mentioned on your website http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food-disease/news/jun2911fenugreek-br.html . We request you ones again to delete immediately the name of our client from your above website/article.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dr. Philipp Giesen
 
RELLERMEYERPARTNER
RECHTSANWÄLTE
 
Dr. Philipp Giesen
Rechtsanwalt / Attorney-at-Law
 
Werdener Straße 4  ·  40227 Düsseldorf               
Telefon /Phone                        + 49 (0) 211 / 72 50 7-0  
Fax Empfang/Fax central        + 49 (0) 211 / 72 50 7-77  
Fax direkt/Fax direct               + 49 (0) 211 / 72 50 7-87
E-Mail               Giesen@RellermeyerPartner.de
www.RellermeyerPartner.de
Partnerschaftsgesellschaft
Sitz: Düsseldorf    Register: AG Essen PR 1516

———————

I do not represent CIDRAP (although I would for free) – they have great lawyers who will respond to your harassment I am sure.  The bottom line is that what they, and many other news organizations reported, were the facts as published by European authorities.  I myself just reported on those facts again:

http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/efsa-and-ecdc-change-published-risk-assessment-because-some-key-partners-involved-felt-that-it-may-u/

You have no basis for your threats to anyone and I strongly suggest that you stop making them.

________________________________________
William D. Marler, Esq.
Marler Clark
The Food Safety Law Firm
1301 Second Avenue, Suite 2800
Seattle, WA  98101-3808
Direct Line:                   (206) 346-1890
Cell:                                (206) 794-5043
Main Line:                    (206) 346-1888
Toll Free:                       (800) 884-9840, ext. 1890
Main Facsimile:           (206) 346-1898
Email:                            bmarler@marlerclark.com
Blog:                              www.marlerblog.com
Twitter:                          @bmarler
Facebook:                     MarlerClarkBlog
Website:                        www.marlerclark.com

This electronic transmission is intended for the addressee or entity indicated above.  It may contain information that is privileged, confidential, or otherwise protected from disclosure.  Any review, dissemination or use of this transmission or its contents by persons other than the addressee is prohibited.  If you have received this transmission in error, we respectfully request that you notify us immediately and erase all copies of this transmission.  Thank you.

P Please only print this email if necessary.  Thank you!

  • Sam

    AGA SAAT: Hello? Yes, I’m calling to offer you a nice villa in Spain if you would consider removing our company name from any articles implicating us in the deaths of many customers.
    EFSA/ECDC: Throw in a new Lear jet, and we have a deal. P.S. sorry about the confusion. Carry on.

  • Minkpuppy

    This just goes to show that corruption is everywhere, not just in the good ol’ US of A.

  • Doc Mudd

    Hmm… looks like Herr Giesen is not familiar with our Constitution’s First Amendment.
    Germany and Spain, with all of the ethical progress they might claim since WWII, still labor under some draconian cultural affectations.
    More cause for Americans to celebrate – Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!!!