Europe

E. coli: European comments

Russia has banned the import of EU fresh vegetables because of the deadly E. coli outbreak centred in the German city of Hamburg.

Spain is seeking compensation after German authorities initially alleged a link between Spanish vegetables and the deadly strain of bacteria, causing sales to collapse and the Health Protection Agency has confirmed E. Coli cases in the UK.

BBC News website readers across Europe have been reacting to the story. Here is a selection of their comments.

Epishkin Ilya, Russia

The tents and shops are rather calm and are probably not all up to date with what's going on. At the moment none of my friends have got sick. Most people do not know what is happening. People are scared.

Some refused to eat cucumbers. All information comes from the media and people refer to them. The radio said that the blame is on Spain, but that hasn't been confirmed. On the shelves of outdoor tents and shops the situation with vegetables is all right. I am eating salad usually made of fresh vegetables.

I think the Russian measures are correct, the main thing is that it does not breach agreements between Russia and Europe and it has not caused a rise in prices.

I sympathise with the people of Germany. The authorities should minimise the negative consequences and punish any perpetrators. The relationship between Russia and Europe is not very good - people are saying that the ban could aggravate it further, although the ban will help local producers.

Elizabeth Cheung, Heidelberg, Germany

I am living in the south-western part of Germany, and luckily it is not yet seriously affected by E.coli.

However, many of my friends are frightened by this news, and have stopped eating any raw vegetables.

My aunt even asked me to wash my dish towels with heavy salty water everyday, and keep a private dish washing sponge in my student dormitory.

I make sure I boil tap water before I drink it and I'm even considering sticking to bottled water only. I don't know where the germs have come from so I am trying to keep safe anyway I can.

I'm not buying any more cucumbers or tomatoes and avoiding buying salad when I'm in the canteen or when I'm out.

The German government has allegedly said the source might be from Spanish vegetables.

However, if that is the real reason, how come there is "only" one case in Spain, while Germany has 470 cases?

Apparently there is something wrong within the agricultural system in Germany, only that we do not know which stage of the system is having a problem.

Anton Dimitrov, Rhoon, Netherlands

I do not know in person anybody who has an infection here in the Netherlands. Despite being informed on the problem, Dutch people are not in panic and do not speculate too much on the topic.

The economy doesn't seem to be affected. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables on the market. Cucumbers as usual are mainly produced in Holland. Perhaps there are some people restraining from consuming fresh vegetables, like myself and my wife, though there is not too much comment on it.

I am sure that the German authorities are doing their best to identify the origin of the germs.

I think it was fair to announce to the public the suspected source of Spanish cucumbers, even though this was not proven.

I still believe that all products should be carefully examined - including the vehicles used to transport and store them. No doubt this will be looked in to by the experts.

Russia of course has full rights to ban the import of fresh vegetables if they think this will better protect their people but I have vague feeling that they are somehow happy to point the finger at any problem occurring within the EU.

Gennady Sergeevich Orlov, Saratov, Russia

Consumers here are bewildered; we do not know what to think, because there is a lack of competent and truthful information available. Nobody here has died from the E. coli outbreak.

Incidences of E. coli infection and food borne diseases in summer time are very common here, like other countries. People speculating the cause of the outbreak come up with some crazy ideas. Anyone who suffers from diarrhoea these days are quick to blame imported vegetables.

I think the German authorities have failed to speedily find the cause of the outbreak and calm the public. Prices of imported cucumber on stalls over the city are now lower by 10 to 15%, which is unusual for this time of the year. I personally eat fresh salads and will continue to do as usual.

I respect the Chief Health Officer of Russia and his decision to ban EU imports. However, I think he has had bad advice. He doesn't have a good knowledge of biology. He may also be afraid for his social position. For bureaucrats, their prosperity depends on the position they hold. It is easier to ban such produce than to think of the greater economic and health consequences.

Other comments

Has no-one considered bottled water as a possible source? This is a product consumed by more women than men (apparently more younger women contracting E. coli) and it can easily be transported across national borders. It would not have been the first time that bottled water has been found to be contaminated with E. coli, but I have not heard this possibility mentioned yet. Billy O'Shea, in Copenhagen, Denmark

The only Spaniard affected by the E. coli had just recently arrived from Hamburg, Germany. This could help to clear that the cause of the outbreak does not seem to be from Spanish crops, at least not in origin. Louis, in Madrid, Spain

E. coli in vegetables is enabled by the the heavy use of antibiotics in animal feed, which is further compounded by the horrendously damaging environmental impact of industrialised cattle farming which turns animal waste into toxic waste. I'm a vegetarian myself, and I'm bitterly angry that my health is put at risk because too few people care about how their meat is produced and it's consequences. This is grossly unfair. Tom Elders, in London, England

I really do not understand how the Health Department in Hamburg can not trace back where these very unfortunate people ate or bought food from in the city. Or how someone decided to shout out, its the cucumbers, before lab tests. Now they have no idea. I think our thoughts must go to the families concerned at a very hard time, who have lost loved ones. It seems to me that the infection may well have been introduced by accident or because of poor food hygiene in Hamburg or in transit, not by growers in Spain. Keith, Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, Wales

Better to know there are fully safe products on the counter than feel afraid or suspicious of vegetables that may be there. I think it is the right decision our the government's part. Denis, Moscow, Russia

I am from Germany. I came to the UK recently and wondered what the situation is in Britain? You hear about the continent but what about England or Wales? I always wash my cucumbers, salads, tomatoes and so on. No-one knows exactly where this has come from. I am also against the hysteric behaviour created by the media on this subject. Annette Strauch, in Borth, Wales, from Berlin, Germany

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