The hit-and-miss struggle of German health authorities to identify the contaminated food behind one of the deadliest E. coli outbreaks in recent years underscores the difficulties of following a pathogen through the complex food supply chain, as well as deficiencies in even the most modern health systems in diagnosing this deadly illness.
After mistakenly suggesting that Spanish cucumbers were the likely culprit several days ago, German authorities focused Sunday on bean sprouts from a German farm, only to report on Monday that the first 23 of 40 samples from that farm had tested negative for E. coli. The results from the remaining samples had yet to come back. That does not entirely eliminate the farm as the outbreak’s origin, since even one positive test is sufficient to make the connection.
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