May 31 - German health officials are still in the dark about what caused the deaths of at least 15 people suffering from a killer bacteria linked to contaminated cucumbers which also made more than 1,000 people ill. Hayley Platt reports.
A consignment of Spanish cucumbers worth millions of euros is consigned to the bin. And now it appears there may have been nothing wrong with them. Last week Germany said contaminated vegetables from Spain were the source of an outbreak of the deadly E. coli bacteria which has killed 15 people in Germany. But one German minister now says tests have proved inconclusive. (SOUNDBITE) (German) HAMBURG STATE HEALTH MINISTER, CORNELIA PRUEFER-STORCKS, SAYING: "I can tell you so far that two of the four cucumbers we found E.coli on carry an E.coli pathogen, however not the type O104 which would explain the serious complications, the illnesses here in Hamburg." The disease has also been detected on a small scale in other European countries including BritaIn, France and Denmark. The first case in Spain has also been found - all linked to people who have recently been to Germany. But Spain was quick to deny the accusations saying the slur has caused irreversible harm to its agriculture industry. The German government told people to stop buying cucumbers, lettuces and tomatoes. That decision cost Spanish farmers dear at a time when they can ill afford it. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) UNIDENTIFIED PACKING PLANT EMPLOYEE, SAYING: "This means that in a plant like ours we should have had 250 working today, packing products and doing maintenance work, but now we have them dumping the produce then taking it to the recycling plant for it to be destroyed." Farming is one of Spain's biggest export markets with about 20,000 tons of fruit and vegtables leaving the country each day. It will be a relief to many that the finger of blame is no longer pointing at them - but little comfort to the farmers who have lost stock and millions in lost revenue. Hayley Platt, Reuters