“Killer cucumber” hysteria is on verge of gripping Romania too, despite authorities assuring they have the situation under control.
Yesterday’s “Evenimentul Zilei” daily newspaper writes that E. Coli, the bacteria rapidly spreading across Europe, could also be hiding in Romanian markets where Spanish tomatoes are still being sold.
Moreover, EVZ journalists say cucumbers from Spain had also been up for sale in Romanian markets until one month ago. The findings however left producers unfazed, who say their vegetables come from their own crops, “straight from the garden or greenhouse” – which is partially true. If the lettuce and cucumbers are home-grown, tomatoes however are imported mostly from Turkey, Italy and even Spain.
The National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority (ANSVSA) says no new cucumber batches from Spain have reached Romania, yet, it ordered that all county departments monitor grocery store chains, the bio variety sold especially, grown with natural fertilizers, which could be the source for E. Coli infections. Agriculture Ministry officials too assure us that, in spite of the black market in Romania, it would be impossible for Spanish cucumbers to be found now. Not the same could be said of the tomatoes from that country. “Romania is the country that has now the most favourable conditions for growing cucumbers. Their price is higher on European markets, therefore, there is no incentive for vegetables to be brought from there. We import tomatoes from Spain, yet, provided hygiene rules are complied with nothing wrong would happen,” EVZ quoted State Secretary Adrian Radulescu as saying.
15 dead in Germany, one dead and 39 poisoned in Sweden
According to the same source, it is not just Spanish cucumbers that are suspected of carrying the E. Coli bacteria, but also those from Denmark and The Netherlands that are now being examined by experts. Control measures have toughened across Europe in the past couple of days. Having taken Spanish cucumbers off the market, Austrian authorities sent inspectors to stores to make sure suspect vegetables have been taken off the shelves, including tomatoes and eggplants, Realitatea TV reports. Italian police are on hot pursuit of vegetables imported from other European countries, Spain and The Netherlands mostly, while Czech officials alleged the poisoned cucumbers had come from Hungary and Luxembourg.
Meanwhile the tally of cucumber poisoned persons rose to 39, of whom 15 with serious complications. A woman almost 50-year-old who contracted the bacteria while on a trip to Germany died in a hospital in South-West Sweden yesterday.
After Germany, where the death toll reached 15, and 200 people are hospitalized, Sweden is the European country most affected by the mysterious E. Coli poisoning. All the sick persons have travelled to Germany recently. Tests run by German experts show that the Spanish cucumbers initially blamed for the 16 deaths Europe-wide should not be held accountable for the outbreak actually. While tests showed the bio cucumbers at stake were infected with E.Coli, they were not infected by the deadly strain found in the more than 1,000 people who have gotten sick in Germany and neighbour countries, which means the source is still unknown, Realitatea TV reports. Also, authorities in Hungary and France have taken several suspect vegetables off store shelves, and Russia has halted vegetable imports from Spain and Germany.