Vegetable crisis

Consumption of vegetables in Portugal is expected to return to normal levels by the end of the week following the E. coli outbreak across Europe which saw 35 people die.

Luís Reis, the president of the Portuguese association of distribution companies (APED), said: “The drop in the levels of vegetables being bought in Portugal was significant for a few days.

“However, there are already signs that levels of consumption are returning to normal.”

He added that every precaution was being taken to ensure that the safety standards of all Portuguese distributors operating in the area of fruits and vegetables are on maximum alert.

The source of the E. coli outbreak is now believed to have been bean sprouts, and not cucumbers as was first suggested.

Richard Burger, the head of the centre for disease control in Germany, said that although tests on bean sprouts on a farm in Lowe Saxony had been negative, the epidemiological investigation of the pattern of the outbreak had produced enough information to make the conclusion.