Consumers warned over E.coli risk
Irish consumers have been warned against eating raw bean sprouts after another E.coli outbreak on the continent.
The advice from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) came as French authorities investigated a food-borne illness caused by the same E.coli strain responsible for more than 40 deaths in Germany.
The FSAI said preliminary indications suggested that bean sprouts could be implicated in the French outbreak, as they were in Germany.
Prof Alan Reilly, chief executive of the FSAI, stressed that no cases of illnesses linked to the strain (Verotoxigenic E.coli O104:H4) had been found in Ireland.
But he added: "Until we identify the precise source of this outbreak, we are advising Irish consumers not to eat raw or uncooked bean sprouts and we are advising caterers not to serve raw bean sprouts.
"Bean sprouts, or sprouted seeds, are produced from a wide variety of seeds. Despite extensive investigation across Germany the exact type or origin of contaminated beans/seeds has not yet been identified.
"This second outbreak in France suggests that there could be a source of contaminated seeds in Europe that are being used to produce sprouts.
"In Ireland, no cases of human illness associated with this strain of E. coli have been found.
"However, until the investigations in France and Germany are concluded, as a precautionary measure we advise consumers not to eat raw bean sprouts for the time being."
He said the FSAI would continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as and when necessary.