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Surprising Science

E.Coli Gives Salad A Bad Rap

Officials cautiously say the peak of the E. coli crisis may have passed but as scientists scramble to identify its source, many Germans have been put off their salad. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Panic continues to grip the streets in Germany and parts of wider Europe, but officials cautiously say that the peak of the E.coli crisis might have passed, “as far as the number of new infections is concerned.” But experts said it was too soon to say if that was the case, adding that while they believed tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce were the source of the bacteria, they were not sure. In a nation where people are generally risk averse, the public remains jittery. One Hamburg waiter said: “I haven’t sold a green salad for days.” Meanwhile European cucumber growers, in particular, are seeking financial aid from the EU.

What’s the Big Idea?

Researchers believe that because a high number of infections spread across a single region of one country, the bacteria probably entered the food chain after leaving farms, but before the produce was sold directly to consumers. One expert said that the distribution suggested “this wasn’t at the point of origin because given the way food chains work these days that means it would have already spread more widely across Europe and possibly the world. At the same time, this has already traveled far enough to suggest that not just one stall or supermarket was responsible.”


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