News / Europe

EU Proposes Financial Aid to Farmers Hit by E. Coli Outbreak

A woman holds bean sprouts with chopsticks in Berlin, Germany, June 5, 2011
A woman holds bean sprouts with chopsticks in Berlin, Germany, June 5, 2011

European Union Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos has recommended a $220-million aid package to help farmers recoup some of their losses from unsold vegetables during the E. coli crisis.

EU agriculture ministers are meeting in Luxembourg Tuesday to talk about the crisis and its economic impact. Since the crisis began, European farmers are unable to sell their vegetables due to growing consumer fears. Russia has banned all vegetables from the EU.

The EU health commissioner cautioned against releasing premature or inaccurate conclusions on the source of the outbreak, which has killed 22 people and sickened more than 2,400.

The cause of the E. coli outbreak in Germany remains a mystery after officials Monday ruled out organic sprouts as the culprit.

Officials had said on Sunday that sprouts from a farm in Lower Saxony state were the source of the bacteria. But they backtracked Monday after the state's agriculture ministry said most of the samples taken from the farm had tested negative.

Officials have also ruled out lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers from Spain.

The E. coli outbreak is the deadliest in modern history. Nearly all the victims are German. Eleven other European nations and the United States also report E. coli cases and say most of the victims had visited northern Germany.

E. coli symptoms can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, vomiting and other complications leading to death.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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