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Germany confirms sprouts as' culprit 'in EHEC outbreak

Sprouts and other sprouts have been identified as the source of the EHEC outbreak, the German national center for disease control Robert Koch institute and other institutions said in Berlin on June 10. Authorities also declared it is safe to eat cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce raw. The findings were based on a follow-up study of more than 100 diners at a German restaurant, Robert Koch institute director Martin buger told a news conference. They found that patients with EHEC among those customers who ate raw sprouts were nine times more likely to develop the disease than those who didn't.

German health minister Angela barr and consumer protection minister Angela aigner hailed the development as good news for consumers. Barr said it would be unnecessary to insist to the previous advice that do not eat raw cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce in northern Germany.

More and more evidences are mounting that sprouts grown on a farm in bennbierte, lower Saxony, were the source of the outbreak. The farm has been completely closed down. Authorities say they are inspecting other farms that produce sprouts. But so far, investigators have not found the pathogen, EHEC 0104:h4, in any of the food samples, including samples taken at the farm, the restaurant and the patient's kitchen.

Although the EHEC outbreak is not over, the number of new infections has been decreasing, bouguer said. He thinks it is because the contaminated food has been used up.

At the start of the E. coli outbreak, German health authorities suspected cucumbers from Spain were the source. European countries immediately imposed a ban on Spanish vegetables and fruits, leading to an outcry from Spain. The German government subsequently admitted that it is a poor judgment.
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