Last updated: 14 July, 2011

Switzerland bans Egyptian seeds and beans over E.coli fears

Switzerland on Thursday suspended imports of some seeds, beans and sprouts from Egypt, after the European Union blamed Egyptian fenugreek seeds for E.coli outbreaks in Germany and France.

“According to the investigations carried out by the German authorities and the European Food Safety Authority, the sprouts obtained from fenugreek seeds from Egypt were the root of the enterohaemorrhagic E.coli epidemic,” said the Swiss Health Ministry in a statement.

“To guarantee that these contaminated products are not put on the Swiss market, the Federal Interior Department and the Federal Office of Agriculture has decreed temporary bans on the imports” of certain “sprouts, seeds and beans from Egypt,” he said.

The measure aimed at “protecting the health consumers” was in immediate effect, he said indicating that the temporary ban would expire in October 31, 2011, in line with the European Union’s suspension.

Brussels had announced action against Egyptian bean and seed imports on July 5, after tests indicated that a 15-tonne batch of Egyptian fenugreek seeds imported in 2009 to Germany and then distributed elsewhere was at the root of an E.coli outbreak that killed 50 people.