Food Law News - EU - 2011

Commission Memo (MEMO/11/367), 31 May 2011

FOOD SAFETY - Statement on the E. Coli outbreak issued by the Member States at the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH)

According to the latest information from competent authorities of the affected Member States, the enterohemorraghic or shiga toxic-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) outbreak is responsible for nine confirmed deaths in Germany. The final results of tests to determine the cause of a further five deaths are awaited. A total of 373 cases of Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) have also been recorded there. Sweden has reported 41 STEC cases out of which 15 developed HUS, Denmark 14 STEC cases (six with HUS), France 6 STEC cases, the UK three STEC (two HUS), the Netherlands seven STEC cases (three HUS) and Austria two STEC cases. Most of the cases reported outside Germany concern either German nationals travelling or persons who visited Germany. The epidemiological investigations carried out by German authorities seem to link the current outbreak with contaminated vegetables. Investigations are ongoing to confirm all possible sources of contamination.

Member States and the Commission acknowledge the efforts of the German authorities and encourage them to take all necessary measures in order to identify, as soon as possible, all sources linked to the outbreak and the way the contamination occurred. This information will be circulated without undue delay through the RASFF system. All involved services, at EU and national level, will maintain their close daily cooperation to ensure the rapid exchange of information.

Member States also note that the outbreak is linked geographically to an area surrounding the city of Hamburg. All necessary measures will be adopted at EU level as soon as the sources of contamination are fully identified. The priority of the EU is to ensure that only safe food reaches the market in order to protect consumers.

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