EHEC – Organic bean sprouts evidently not the cause


According to the magazine Bio-Handel, bean sprouts from the Naturland-certified farm Gärtnerhof Bienenbüttel in Lower Saxony are suspected of being a source of the EHEC bacterium. The farm, on the other hand, is emphasizing the point that the tests for E-coli carried out in January 2011 and in May for EHEC were all negative. The Ministry of Agriculture in Lower Saxony is still searching for possible sources of the outbreak, and results are expected to be available today. After the authorities made their suspicions known, all customers (gastronomy wholesalers and bakeries) were informed and goods were recalled. It seems unlikely that organic cultivation can have caused EHEC bacteria to be present on the bean sprouts, since the farm says that it does not use any fertiliser of animal origin.

RP Online reports that Hückeswagener Frischkeim Naturkost GmbH has also come under pressure. Although production has not been halted, the company has seen a drop in orders. The local trading standards authorities took samples of all products and also carried out a hygiene audit in the company. There were no complaints regarding hygiene. Frischkeim Naturkost has been operating for 25 years and its products carry the EU organic certificate and the Bioland certificate. It supplies bean sprouts to the wholesale trade, the wholefood trade, gastronomy businesses and processing companies such as salad producers and bakeries.

The newspaper Die Welt writes that the environmental protection organization Greenpeace does not regard the EHEC epidemic as a special problem of organic agriculture. It says the probem lies in the characertistics of bean sprouts in whose seeds EHEC bacteria can survive.

The wholefood wholesaler Dennree reports that ongoing and comprehensive testing of the products it sells have detected no trace of EHEC. Dennree has also launched an initiative whereby it carries out unannounced visits to vegetable producers in Spain, Germany and Austria so that it can gather information and take samples where the products are grown. As well as multiple sampling on the spot, checking the transport of goods and on-site inspections, the precarious situation of the producers will no doubt also be a topic of conversation.


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