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EU Raps Russia's E. coli-Related Vegetable Ban


Boxes containing tomatoes stand behind a fence at the closed shop of a distributor at the central fruit and vegetable market in Berlin (File)

Boxes containing tomatoes stand behind a fence at the closed shop of a distributor at the central fruit and vegetable market in Berlin (File)

The European Union has voiced its "profound dissatisfaction" with Russia for keeping in place a ban on vegetable imports from Europe due to the deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany.

EU officials said Wednesday the Russian ban is disproportionate and now unjustified, since the source of E. coli contamination has been found - a localized problem around the city of Hamburg in northern Germany.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last week his government would lift the ban as soon as the EU provides documents certifying the vegetables are safe. But experts from both sides have yet to agree on what sort of certification Russia will accept.

Vegetable farmers across Europe say they have suffered immense damages due to the outbreak, which has killed at least 38 people and sickened more than 3,200 others. All but one of the deaths and most of the infections have occurred in Germany.

Death of the first child killed by the E. coli outbreak was reported on Tuesday. However, German public health officials say the number of new infections has dropped significantly in the last week.

German authorities have identified vegetable sprouts grown by an organic farm in northern Germany as the source of the E. coli. Health officials initially had blamed cucumbers and other vegetables from Spain for the deadly outbreak, then shifted responsibility to other European countries.

The market for European produce plummeted as a result, and produce costing millions of dollars was left to rot in fields and warehouses.

E. coli symptoms include somach cramps, diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Severe infections can result in a form of kidney failure that is fatal.

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