Sixteen people in Europe are dead and hundreds more are being treated for serious bacterial infection, causing worldwide concern for the safety of produce that may have started the sickness.
More than 1,150 patients in Germany and Sweden have reported serious symptoms of E.coli infection, with additional cases arising in France, Denmark, the U.K., the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
The source, officials believe, are cucumbers from Spain. However, the investigation will continue to unravel confusing details about where the offending cucumbers originated and if they were contaminated during transport to other European countries. All of the deaths but one have taken place in Germany.
While the blame seems to currently rest on Spanish cucumbers, vegetable growers there have responded quickly with both outrage and compliance. Some have destroyed outgoing cucumbers, while others have defiantly eaten cucumbers on camera, calling for further investigation before pinpointing vegetables from two regions in Spain. Investigators say young women have primarily been struck hard by this outbreak, perhaps in part because of health conscious eating. In the past, the elderly and children have been most vulnerable.
A similar strain of E.coli caused illness in Americans in 1994 and 1995, including fatalities among four children and hundreds of infections spurred by contaminated hamburgers at the Jack in the Box fast-food franchise.
Health experts remind us to thoroughly wash cucumbers, lettuce, and other vegetables and to immediately seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of E.coli. Watch the video below for more tips on staying safe.
As the investigation and treatment of the current devastating sweep of E. coli in Europe continues, do you see a need to step up your kitchen prep and eating habits in response? Or is this foreign matter of little concern since it is so far away?
Does an outbreak like this damage the better-health reputation of organic produce? Or will you keep eating organic foods no matter what has happened elsewhere?
More on Shine:
- One scary place E.coli lives: grocery store samples
- 11 rules to prevent food contamination
- How to keep fruits and veggies safe
- How to keep meat and poultry safe