organic vegetablesEU agriculture ministers are to hold emergency talks, as efforts continue to find the source of an E.coli outbreak which has killed 22 people.

The first tests on bean sprout from a German farm suspected of being the source of the outbreak were negative. Of the 40 samples being examined from Uelzen, South of Hamburg, 23 tested negative, the officials said. More than 2,200 people have fallen ill in 12 countries. Initially German officials had pointed to Spanish cucumber as the likely cause.

In Luxembourg, the EU agriculture ministers will want to know how close experts are to identifying the source, amid mounting criticism of the investigation into the outbreak .The meeting is also to consider the amount of compensation to the farmers.

Spain says it is demanding 100% compensation from Germany for huge losses suffered by its vegetable farmers because of a false accusation. Spain’s fruits and vegetable exporter’s association has reported an estimated loss at 225m Euros a week.

The EU ministers are also expected to address a Russsian ban on imports of fresh produce from the EU. Other EU countries also say that their farmers will need financial help after sales and prices plummeted.

Reported by Alka