Reports that at least 14 people have now sadly died in Germany as a result of food poisoning superbug E.coli, and more than 1000 people have estimated to have been infected, has sent shockwaves across Europe. Spanish cucumbers have been put in the spotlight as the suspected source of the outbreak. In Austria and the Czech Republic Spanish vegetables suspected of being contaminated are being recalled and Russia and Belgium have banned the imports of some vegetables from Spain. However, no cases of E.coli have so far been recorded in Spain itself.
Britain’s Health Protection Agency said England had so far seen three cases of E.coli in people who have recently returned from travel to Germany.
While organic Spanish cucumbers have been suggested, the source of the infection has not been properly identified. But according to the Financial Times, sales of fresh cucumbers has plummeted across Europe with the health scare. Britain imports more than 5 per cent of its food from Spain including much fresh produce but there is no reason to panic. The Food Standards Agency said there was no evidence any of the effected organic cucumbers have been distributed to the UK but it was monitoring the situation closely.
What should you do given the recent news? Here’s our advice:
- So far the only people to have been taken ill in the UK had been to Germany recently but keep an eye on the news in case the situation changes.
- If you have been to Germany recently and fall ill go straight to the doctor as E.coli can cause serious health side effects. Symptoms can include light fever and vomiting.
- At this time of year most cucumbers sold in the UK have been grown in the UK but check country of origin and if you are worried avoid produce from Spain.
- Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly to remove any bacteria that may be on the outside. Peeling or cooking can also remove these germs.
- Wash chopping boards and any knives used thoroughly in hot, soapy water.
- Shoppers in Germany have been advised to avoid cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuces so take extra care with these salad vegetables.