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France vigilant over E.Coli bug

Batch of cucumbers delivered to Brittany has been recalled, as France reports three food poisoning cases from Germany

FOOD safety checks have been reinforced in France following a poisoning outbreak in Europe that is believed to have originated from Spanish cucumbers.

French health authorities are keeping a close eye on three people with suspect cases of E.Coli - all of whom have recently returned from Germany, where the bug has affected up to 1,000 people and killed 10.

The bacteria affects the blood, kidneys and in the most severe cases the nervous system. The European Commission has confirmed two Spanish distributors as the source of the outbreak.

France has recalled one batch of cucumbers delivered by the Spanish farms to a wholesaler in Brittany in mid-May.

According to Ouest France, several hundred kilos of cucumbers from the batch were sold before the recall was put in place. However there are no reported cases of poisoning from these cucumbers so far.

Agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire told France Info that the government was assessing the risks and had strengthened its checks on food imports.

Health minister Xavier Bertrand said in an interview with France 5 that there was no cause for panic. He said: "The three people are being closely watched and we have withdrawn a batch of cucumbers from the market. It's not contagious - it's not like flu."

He reminded consumers to follow basic hygiene measures such as washing hands before each meal and after going to the toilet, and thoroughly cleaning all fruit and vegetables.

The results of further tests on produce from the two Spanish distributors are expected later today.

Photo: Richard Villalon - Fotolia.com

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