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Environment

British beansprout alert in France after Bordeaux E coli outbreak

media Petri dishes for E coli tests Reuters/Ints Kalnins

A 78-year-old woman is in a “worrying” condition in a Bordeaux hospital after being admitted among seven people feared to have the E coli virus. Britain’s Food Standards Agency has warned people not to eat raw beansprouts after it was revealed that the patients had eaten sprouts sold by a British company.

The woman’s condition was “serious and worrying” while the other six were stable, doctors said Sunday.

"As a precaution, the agency is advising that sprouted seeds should only be eaten if they have been cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout; they should not be eaten raw," an agency statement said Saturday.

Ten people suspected to have E coli poisoning were found to have eaten fenugreek, mustard and rocket sprouts at a fête at a children’s centre on 8 June. The sprouts are believed to have been bought at a garden centre supplied by British mail order company Thompson & Morgan.

The company said it was cooperating with the investigation while dubbing the alleged connection with its products an “unsubstantiated link”.

No cases have been found in the UK.

French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand called on anyone who had bought sprouts not to eat them and on anyone suffering from acute diarrhoea and stomach ache to see a doctor quickly.

A telephone conference with European health officials was to be held Sunday to try and discover the origin of the bacteria, in the light of Germany’s deadly E coli outbreak, Bertrand said.

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