E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome

EU Ban on Egyptian Seeds Extended

24th October 2011

Last week the European Commission (EC) lifted import restrictions on fresh and chilled podded peas and green beans and other fresh produce from Egypt. The ban had been an emergency action imposed in July, after imported Egyptian fenugreek seeds were blamed for the outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 linked to sprouts in Germany and France.

But while fresh peas and beans got a green light, the EC has decided that the temporary ban on Egyptian seeds and sprouts, scheduled to expire 31st October, will be extended until the end of March 2011, following an "unsatisfactory audit" of seed producers in Egypt. The extended ban involves arugula sprouts, leguminous vegetable sprouts (fresh or chilled), soy bean sprouts, dried (shelled) leguminous vegetables, fenugreek seeds, soy beans and mustard seeds.

Full details of the audit at the end of August are still under review but in the meantime the EC has said that measures taken by the Egyptian authorities to address shortcomings in the production of seeds that may be sprouted for human consumption were not sufficient "to tackle the identified risks." Those shortcomings were not seen in the growing and processing sites for fresh peas and beans, therefore those vegetables are no longer considered a food safety risk.

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