A new culprit has emerged in the deadliest E. coli outbreak in recorded history: Egyptian fenugreek seeds. Experts had already tracked the crisis to sprouts; now, “tracing back is progressing and has thus far shown that fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt either in 2009 and/or 2010 are implicated” in both German and French outbreaks, European officials said in a statement. Forty-eight people have died and another 4,000 have gotten sick.
“Investigations are still ongoing,” an official says, as to whether a single German importer brought the contaminated seeds into Europe. “We put our seeds under microbiological testing and there have been no positive tests for E.coli,” says head German importer agaSAAT. As for buying seeds from Egypt, “everyone does it,” the CEO tells Reuters. Because officials still haven’t pinpointed the moment of contamination, it’s possible that “other batches of potentially contaminated seeds are still available within the EU, and perhaps outside,” they said. (Read more Egypt stories.)