AP Health reports this morning that European health experts warned Thursday there could be more E. coli cases across Europe and elsewhere after finding recent deadly outbreaks were probably linked to contaminated Egyptian fenugreek seeds. They say the fenugreek seeds are likely to blame for a massive food poisoning outbreak in Germany beginning in May that killed 49 people and infected over 4,000, as well as a much smaller outbreak in France in June. A single E. coli case was also reported in Sweden, in a patient with no known links to Germany. More than 800 people have developed a life-threatening kidney complication after catching the bug.
My favorite quotes thus far:
“Sprouts are biological time bombs,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told the AP. “If they’re infected, once they’re rehydrated and distributed, they could take the bacteria anywhere.” Osterholm said the seeds could also cross-contaminate other products or be sold in a seed mix.
Osterholm said medical authorities should be increasing their surveillance and testing of potential E. coli patients, since cases could easily be missed. “Once seeds are sold from Egypt, they could be distributed all over the world,” he said. “There is no place in the world that’s safe from an outbreak like this.”
So, FDA, are the seeds in the US or not?