No European Cucumber Please

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Researchers have been unable to pinpoint the cause of E-coli breakout, which has hit at least nine European countries and prompted Russia on Thursday to extend a ban on vegetable from the entire EU.

We living in this part of the globe are not immune to the blame game. The United Arab Emirates issued a temporary ban on cucumbers from Spain, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. State news agency WAM said the Gulf nation’s Minister of Environment and Water issued the order based on information “from international food safety agencies and news reports.” Other produce from the countries will be allowed in if importers can provide documentation that it is free of E. coli.

However UAE imports only 2% of cucumber from European countries thereby the there will be no shortage. Jordan is the UAE’s top cucumber importer, supplying 50 per cent of the country’s needs. This is followed by Saudi Arabia with 18 per cent and Iran with 14 per cent. The average price for cucumbers imported to the UAE is two dirhams, while the price for cucumbers imported from the banned countries reaches up to Dh10, five times the price of the normal imports. The European imports have a specific and limited target segment.

The Gulf federation’s foreign affairs ministry is also warning its citizens living or traveling in Europe to avoid eating vegetables altogether.

The E. coli bacteria responsible for a deadly outbreak that has left 18 dead and sickened hundreds in Europe is a new strain that has never been seen before, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Preliminary genetic sequencing suggests the strain is a mutant form of two different E. coli bacteria, with aggressive genes that could explain why the Europe-wide outbreak appears to be so massive and dangerous, the agency said. Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the WHO, told The Associated Press that “this is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before.”

The outbreak is already considered the third-largest involving E. coli in recent world history, and it may be the deadliest. Twelve people died in a 1996 Japanese outbreak that reportedly sickened more than 12,000, and seven died in a 2000 Canadian outbreak.

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