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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

German Sprout Farmer’s “Bad Luck” – I say E. coli! – Update 35 Dead

Reuters a few days ago reported that German authorities had linked the E. coli O104:H4 outbreak that has killed 35, sickened over 3,255 – 812 with acute kidney failure – some with brain complications – to contaminated bean sprouts grown on a local organic farm.

1-1hOaoR.Em.55.jpgAt least one German official sees that the sprouter is blameless for the illnesses and deaths:

“Everything we have looked into until now shows the farm was flawless,” said Gert Hahne, spokesman for the consumer protection office of Lower Saxony state. “It is hygienic and followed all the regulations.

“No matter how you look at it we don’t see any fault with the farm or legal ground to hold them accountable,” he said by telephone. “You cannot punish someone for having bad luck.”

Bad luck? 35 dead and likely to rise! 812 with acute kidney failure – at least 100 will require kidney transplants! Many of the others ill will suffer with brain damage, kidney dysfunction, diabetes, bowel and heart disease for the remainder of their lives! Bad luck for the sprouter?

Fact – assuming (and given the fingering of cucumbers earlier) that the cause of the outbreak were the sprouts, three things happened to allow a fecal bacteria – E. coli O104:H4 – into 3,255 salads:

1. Sprouter used seeds that were contaminated prior to sprouting;

2. Sprouter use contaminated water, and/or;

3. Sprouter had contaminated workers.

Bad luck“, really?  “Flawless?” hygienic and followed all the regulations?”  I call bullshit (a.k.a. E. coli).

Here is a handy, dandy Sprout Outbreak Chart – Thanks to Bites and @barfblog

  • Carl Custer

    Bull via:
    1. bee,
    2. bird/rodent/bovine/ or
    3. human sh*t

  • This is the best evidence yet to not eat these products. If all the regs and “flawless” hygiene didn’t help forget raw sprouts as food, they are simply intrinsic killers. There should be serious warnings and I think a ban should be considered.

  • sleuther

    “Bad luck” may be what the German authorities say when they need to blame someone or something but don’t actually have enough hard evidence to prosecute, as the sprout establishment in question appears to have been doing a very good and hygienic job.
    But up until now there were always cow-source pathogens somewhere back down the line of E.coli infections and numerous protocols have been developed to reduce their risk.
    This newly virulent German strain appears to be a human-based organism, however. So now, Bill, you better employ full time medical personnel at the workplace to check yourself and all your employees for disease organisms (God Forbid) on a daily basis — because while your business might be doing Everything Right — you just might be held responsible for an unseen run of bad luck…

  • farmerjudd

    As far as I know, after 50 samples, there has been no evidence of e. coli. from this farm. I would caution against incriminating without hard science. This is a warning to all farmers to keep their facilities clean, do testing, and implement traceback. It is also a warning that the industry will burn a small farm for no reason other than to minimize financial losses. I bet the EU is wondering when it can start selling produce again…