CAIRO: Egypt's ministry of agriculture on Friday denied that fenugreek seeds exported to Europe had caused an E.coli outbreak that has killed 50 people, mainly in Germany.
The head of Egypt's Central Administration of Agricultural Quarantine, Ali Suleiman, said claims by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that Egyptian fenugreek seeds exported in 2009 and 2010 may have been implicated in the outbreak were "completely untrue."
"The presence of this bacteria in Egypt has not been proven at all, and it has not been recorded," Suleiman told the official MENA news agency.
He said the Egyptian company that exported the seeds in 2009 has stressed in a letter that it had exported the fenugreek to Holland and not to Germany, Britain or France.
On Wednesday, the EFSA said a "rapid risk assessment" it conducted with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), had shown the Egyptian seeds could have been to blame.
"There is still much uncertainty about whether this is truly the common cause of all the infections as there are currently no positive bacteriological results," it stressed.
The World Health Organization said 4,050 infections have been confirmed in 14 European countries, the United States and Canada — more than 3,900 of them in Germany.
All but two of the fatalities have so far been in Germany, apart from one case in the United States and a woman who died in Sweden shortly after returning from a visit to Germany.