Germany has warned consumers to be especially careful when eating tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers which are believed to be responsible for an outbreak of food poisoning that has left three dead.
Initial findings by the Robert Koch Institute, the national disease centre, "indicate that the most recent contamination by EHEC (enterohaemorrhagic E. coli) is most probably due to consumption of raw tomatoes, cucumbers and leaf salad," the ministry for consumer protection said late Wednesday.
The agency called on consumers to wash vegetables carefully, especially those originating in northern Germany where most cases of food poisoning have been reported over the past fortnight.
Health officials say some 140 people have become seriously ill with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), caused by EHEC, and at least three have died. There are hundreds of other suspected cases.
The officials say the number of cases is very unusual as there are normally just 1,000 EHEC infections and 60 cases of HUS per year.
Children are normally most at risk, but in the latest outbreak adults, mostly women, have been felled by the disease which can result in acute renal failure, seizures, strokes and coma.