E.coli Outbreak in Germany, a PR Nightmare for Spain

E.coli sickness everything-pr

Being blamed for the E.coli outbreak in Germany was the last thing Spain needed right now. On Monday, the death toll caused by the E.coli outbreak in Germany climbed to 13, with 329 people developing severe forms of the infection by Monday afternoon, and the German authorities rushed into pointing fingers at Spain, the main distributor of fresh fruit and vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes and strawberries in the country.

It was wrong for Germany to put in question the whole of Spanish agricultural exports over the outbreak, a PR error that could cost Spanish farmers €6 million a day in lost revenue. Incidentally, the outbreak is mainly affecting northern Germany and the area around Hamburg, and most cases outside Germany are related to people coming or returning from that particular region in Germany.

Spain itself didn’t have any reports of such severity, which could mean that the infestation with E.coli could have developed on delivery routes between Spain and Germany, or in storage areas, and may not come from the Spanish farms. Yet Spain is currently examining soil, water and other relevant materials from two cucumber farms in Málaga and Almería that are suspected of being the source of the disease.

German, Austrian, and Danish authorities are banning all Spanish produce from their shelves without testing them, worsening the tension between Spain and Germany. And despite the fact that there were suspect batches of products from cucumbers shipped from Netherlands and Denmark as well, the media, and public outrage, are mainly focused on Spain.

In the meanwhile, a number of hospitals on the continent put on E. coli alert, warning that the bacteria, also known as O.104, can lead to a serious kidney disease called HUS (haemolytic uraemic syndrome), which can cause acute kidney failure. German authorities advised people not to eat cucumbers, tomatoes, or lettuce, however many stores in Rheinland-Pfalz, where our company is headquartered (including Aldi, Lidl and Edeka) still have Spanish tomatoes and cucumbers on their shelves as we report this.

Vegetables are not the sole carriers of E.coli. On this website, you find a few tips on how to prevent E. Coli poisoning.


  1. says

    I find absolutely weird those organic vegetables “may be the cause” and nobody has been able to identify the sure source of this epidemic spread of the bacteria. Also noticeable to me, is that the blame is on Spain, especially when there are no Spanish consumers reported ill, and when the Spain economy is stumbling. It smells like a dirty move to me…

  2. says

    On question/concern I have had about this whole matter is this: the original suspected Spanish cucumbers (since cleared) were stated to be organic? The suspected source: manure.
    But highly antibiotic resistant e. coli would logically be more likely to occur in the manure of animals routinely fed antibiotics.
    I don’t know the EU regulations regarding what food can be sold as “organic”, but shouldn’t it include the requirement that the amendments be organic? Not just manure instead of petrochemical fertilizers, but manure from organically raised animals?
    (Never minding that, IIRC, manure should be cured in the sun for at least 90 days, or composted, precisely to kill off pathogens.)

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