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EU in emergency talks on E.coli

The EU is to hold an emergency meeting of agriculture ministers to discuss the deadly E.coli outbreak which has killed 22 people.

The talks come the day after German officials backtracked on a previous claim that beansprouts from a farm in northern Germany were responsible for the outbreak, meaning that the source is once again a mystery.

Germany had initially blamed Spanish cucumbers for the outbreak, but that was earlier proved not to be the case when it emerged those vegetables were contaminated with a different strain of E.coli.

But the all-clear for the cucumbers came too late to halt the mass destruction of the vegetable - not just in Spain but across the continent as consumers avoided buying them.

The EU talks will discuss plans to compensate farmers across Europe for losses triggered by the outbreak.

Sales have slumped and prices fallen - and the same fate threatens beansprouts and any other farm product named as the possible cause before tests have been completed.

Spanish farmers are demanding full compensation from Germany, but the European Commission is likely to produce proposals to use EU funds and allow temporary national aid - normally outlawed as anti-competitive - while the crisis continues.

"The Commission will be proposing concrete compensation measures," said a Commission spokesman.

"There has been a drop in consumption around Europe and it is important that we find a European solution to what is an EU-wide problem at the moment, to support fruit and vegetable growers across the EU."

The outbreak has seen more than 2,300 people falling ill across Europe, including several in the UK, with Germany the focus of cases. A "super-toxic" strain of the bacteria has been identified as the cause.


From Belfast Telegraph