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Euro-E. Coli Controversy Heats Up

Euro-E. Coli Controversy Heats Up

It looks like Spain may seek compensation from Germany over claims of the disease outbreak's origins.

Just where does E. coli come from? Sure scientists know the sources of the disease but when an outbreak happens finding the guilty culprit has its own challenges. That's happened in the United States with an outbreak first blamed on tomatoes and later found to be caused by something else entirely. The same thing is happening in Europe.

A major outbreak of the food-borne illness, which has killed 16 and sickened hundreds, was originally blamed on Spanish cucumbers. In fact, German authorities were laying the blame off on Spain, but it turns out the cucumbers in question were free of the disease. Now Spanish authorities are talking about seeking compensation from the Germans over the accusations.

According to Dow Jones, the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Rubalcaba has said the German accusations that the E. coli outbreak came from cucumbers from Spain and other European countries have resulted in heavy losses for produce exporters. In fact, Rubalcaba pointed out there's been no outbreak of the disease in Spain, which he says indicates the disease isn't coming from that country.

The Spaniards claim the outbreak endangers 70,000 jobs in the country, which is already suffering with a 21% unemployment rate, with it's ag regions most affected.

Meanwhile German farmers are also being hit with losses as ag products are withdrawn from local markets. Those Germans stand to lose as much as 30 million euros a week, according to the report.

Despite the Spanish concern over the issue, the city of Hamburg, which is stricken with the outbreak, believes it was right to warn about the cucumbers, the report says. The controversy continues.

Perhaps the hardest news to take is that the outbreak could be crimping Spanish exports, which have been a bright spot for that country's economy. Last year, Spain exported more than 11 billion euros in fruits and vegetables.

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