7 JUN 2011
German officials are no closer to finding the source of the deadly E.coli outbreak that has killed 22 people, after admitting it might not be the bean sprouts that they blamed only 24 hours earlier.
By Harry Wallop
After incorrectly blaming Spanish cucumbers, German officials said on Sunday that the source was almost certainly a bean sprout farm in Lower Saxony, in northern Germany.
However, on Monday afternoon German officials admitted that 23 of the 40 samples being tested from the alleged source of the outbreak had proved negative, though it insisted that the suspect farm was still a possible source.
The owner of the sprout farm, in the village of Steddorf, near the small town of Bienenbüttel, 40 miles south of Hamburg, had said he was baffled at being implicated, saying his sprouts were grown with nothing more than water and seeds.
The confusion and slow response from German officials is coming under increasing scrutiny around Europe as doctors battle to contain what has already become the worst E.coli outbreak in living memory, surpassing the 17 killed in Japan from E.coli-infected bean sprouts in 1996.
More than 2,200 have fallen ill, with 22 fatalities recorded. The Health Protection Agency in Britain said on Monday night there had been no further cases in this country since Friday last week, leaving the total number of people seriously ill at 11, all of whom have travelled to Germany.
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