Vienna: Austrian officials inspected supermarkets on Monday for Spanish vegetables suspected of contamination with a potentially fatal bacteria that has sickened hundreds of Europeans. In Germany, the death toll from the outbreak rose to 11.Spain, meanwhile, went on the defensive, saying there was no proof that the E. coli outbreak has been caused by Spanish vegetables.Spain`s Secretary of State for European Affairs, Diego Lopez Garrido, said Madrid might take action against those pointing fingers at his southern European nation."You can`t attribute the origin of this sickness to Spain," Lopez Garrido told reporters in Brussels. "There is no proof and that`s why we are going to demand accountability from those who have blamed Spain for this matter."
Czech officials said tests on 120 potentially tainted Spanish cucumbers pulled off shelves on Sunday are expected to be concluded in two days. No illnesses have been reported.In Italy, meanwhile, the country`s paramilitary Carabinieri tainted food squad has been on the lookout since Saturday for any contaminated cucumbers, checking imports from Spain, the Netherlands and other European countries. So far, lab analyses have come back negative, and no cases of food poisoning have been reported.Still, Italy`s agriculture lobby, Coldiretti, urged Italians to support their local growers to avoid imports.Currently, Italian supermarkets are full of peaches, apricots, cherries and plums from Spain. As for pickles and cucumbers, Italy imported some 8 million kilograms (17 million pounds) from Spain last year.EU spokesman Frederic Vincent said Sunday that two greenhouses in Spain that were identified as the source of the contaminated cucumbers had ceased activities. The water and soil there are being analyzed to see whether they were the problem, and the results are expected Tuesday or Wednesday, said Vincent.The EU notified member states Friday of the source of the outbreak, which has affected primarily the Hamburg area of Germany and, to a lesser extent, Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, according to Vincent.Bureau Report
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