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E coli outbreak in France linked to British seeds

27th June 2011

The Food Standards Agency has been investigating reports that there could be a link between seeds sold in Britain and an outbreak of E coli in France.

Bacteria

The AFP news agency said 10 people had become ill with the E coli bug in Bordeaux and it is believed that some of them may have eaten sprouted seed produced by the Ipswich company Thompson and Morgan.

However, the company told the BBC that it had not found "evidence of a link" and the FSA confirmed that no cases of the illness had been reported in the UK.

It had made revisions to its guidelines, however, which included saying people should not eat raw spouted seeds such as alfalfa and mung beans.

The FSA guidance advised people who wanted to eat the seeds that they should cook them thoroughly and wash their hands after handling the raw seeds.

A spokeswoman for Thompson and Morgan said the company sold "hundreds of thousands of packets of these seeds throughout France, the UK and other parts of Europe every year".

"We are very confident the problem is not with our seeds."

An FSA spokesman told the BBC: "We have been in contact with the French authorities about this outbreak and are aware that a UK business has been named in connection with it."

"We have asked for further information from the French authorities with regard to the three named type of seeds to help us carry out investigations in the UK."

 

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