Why You Still Have to Worry About Deadly German E Coli Outbreak: Could Remain a Global Threat for Years

July 8, 2011

Although new cases of the deadly strain of e coli that broke out in Germany have dropped significantly, experts say that because the distribution of the contaminated seeds was so incredibly widespread, people will be at risk from the particularly deadly strain of e coli for up to three years or more. No one really knows.

Wired provides a detailed and frightening look at how quickly contaminated seeds can infect the entire global food chain and persist as a threat for years to come.

Investigators think the German e coli outbreak, which sickened thousands and killed dozens, and more recent Egyptian e coli scare are both a result of one immense, 33,000-pound, shipment of fenugreek seeds from Egypt on November 24th, 2009.

Here's how the shipment was distributed:

  • 10,500 kg to a single German distributor;
  • 3,550 kg to nine other German companies;
  • 375 kg to a Spanish company; 250 kg to an Austrian distributor that sold the entire lot to a single Austrian company;
  • and 400 kg to a company in England.


Image Sources: