Berlin: Germany stepped up efforts Tuesday to trace the source of a bacteria outbreak that has killed 25 amid warnings it might never be found, while the EU pledged aid for vegetable farmers hit by the scare.After having been tripped up by several apparently false leads, German authorities had zeroed in on organic salad sprouts as the possible origin of the contamination with a highly virulent strain of E. coli.But initial probes carried out on a farm growing a variety of salad sprouts in the northern state of Lower Saxony proved negative.Another lead in Hamburg, the epicentre of the outbreak, had involved salad sprouts from the same farm found in the refrigerator of a sickened man. But that sample also failed to display any trace of the bacterial strain.
"The warning goes for as long as investigations are underway and suspicions have not been laid to rest," he added. The head of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Andreas Hensel, has also warned that "it is possible we shall never be able to identify the source" of the contamination. Similar outbreaks in Japan between 1996 and 2003 infected more than 10,000 people and left 22 dead, according to the Japanese health ministry. Radish sprouts were widely suspected, but scientists were never able to prove the connection and farmers successfully sued for compensation.Bureau Report
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