herald

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Families fear E.coli bug in fruit and veg

Almost four out of 10 people are worried about the safety of fruit and vegetables following the E.coli outbreak centred on Germany, according to a survey published today.

Despite experts saying there is no evidence food on sale here has been affected, 38pc of people questioned said they were worried about falling ill from eating fruit and veg.

Of these, 10pc said they were "very worried".

The research, based on interviews with more than 1,300 people, showed 45pc have changed they way they prepare food at home in the wake of the health crisis.

It showed 17pc have started washing fruit and veg for the first time and 28pc are now washing produce more thoroughly than in the past.

Other precautions include peeling and cooking produce they would not have cooked or peeled before.

And 7pc said they are cutting down or avoiding eating fresh fruit and vegetables altogether, regardless of origin. But only 16pc of respondents said they are eating less fresh German produce or avoiding it.



clarity

Nigel Jenney, of the Fresh Produce Consortium, said it was important to establish clarity about the source of the outbreak. "This needs to be a concern for the industry," he said.

Meanwhile, Germany lifted a warning against eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce after concluding tainted sprouts caused an E.coli infection that has killed 31 people, as the first direct link to the illness was found.

Based on interviews with restaurant patrons and cooks and a review of food deliveries, there's a "high probability" bean sprouts were the cause, Reinhard Burger, head of the Robert Koch Institute, said in Berlin today.

The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said separately that E.coli bacteria of the aggressive O104 strain tied to the outbreak were detected for the first time on sprouts from a northern German farm.

"There is no signal any more that tomatoes, cucumbers and salad are responsible for the outbreak in North Germany," Andreas Hensel, head of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, said at a news conference. "Now these products are not suspicious anymore. It's healthy to eat them."

hnews@herald.ie

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