Keeping a close eye on the E. coli outbreak in Europe

Saturday 4 June 2011, 8:10AM

MAF is monitoring the outbreak of Escherichia coli in Europe closely.

The serotype O104:H4 of the shiga toxin-producing E. coli(STEC) has been identified as being responsible for the outbreak. However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has not yet been able to identify the potential source of contamination despite intensive investigations.

MAF is daily reviewing reports from EFSA on any progress in identifying any specific food type link to the food safety hazard. We – along with Food Standards Australia New Zealand – are also in contact with our other international counterparts, and will take further precautions if necessary.

Initial reports linked the E. coli outbreak to consumption of fresh cucumbers. New Zealand only imports fresh cucumbers from Australia. We import a small volume of other vegetable types from the European Union, such as fresh tomatoes from the United Kingdom. Fresh produce from Europe makes up just three percent of total value of vegetable imports.

While there has been a significant number of illness cases reported outside of Germany, these have all – except for two – been recent travellers to Germany.