Screen shot 2011-07-05 at 4.36.16 PM.pngThe European Union has banned imports of Egyptian fenugreek seeds after they were linked to E. coli O104:H4 outbreaks in Germany and France that has sickened over 4,200 and killed 50 throughout Europe and the Untied States.

“The analysis of information from the French and German outbreaks leads to the conclusion that an imported lot of fenugreek seeds which was used to grow sprouts imported from Egypt [unnamed grower or growers] by a[n unnamed] German importer, is the most likely common link but other lots may be implicated. The report highlights that negative results from microbiological tests carried out on seeds cannot be interpreted as proof that a lot is not contaminated with STEC” the European Commission said in a release.

European Union imports from Egypt of the kinds of seeds affected by the ban totaled about 49,000 tons in 2010, the commission said. In its report, the EFSA said a single batch (lot # 48088) of fenugreek seeds is the likely cause of both a major outbreak of highly toxic E. coli in Germany in May and a smaller outbreak in France in June. Other shipments of fenugreek imported from Egypt between 2009 and 2011 might also be contaminated, the EFSA warned.

Here is the greatest concern:

The number of [EU] Member States [and possibly others] that have received parts of the suspected lots is much larger than previously known and it cannot be excluded that other Member States and third countries were supplied. The trace forward operation is becoming complex and widespread and may take weeks.