Cucumbers in the UK: safety watchdog reassures consumers

Cucumbers in the UK

Food Standards Agency says there is no evidence that salad vegetables on sale in Britain are carrying E coli bacteria

Cucumbers in the UK

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Cucumbers in the UK: safety watchdog reassures consumers” was written by Bim Adewunmi and Rebecca Smithers, for The Guardian on Tuesday 31st May 2011 19.58 UTC

The British food safety watchdog has reassured consumers there is no evidence that any salad vegetables on sale in the UK are carrying deadly E coli bacteria. The Food Standards Agency said the leading supermarkets had confirmed they were not selling organic cucumbers from suspected regions, although it advised all fruit and vegetables should be thoroughly washed before consumption.

Richard Dodd, of the British Retail Consortium, said most of the cucumbers in the UK come from Portugal and Holland. “We import them from Spain too, although a system called ‘full traceability’ means supermarkets know the exact origins of the fruit and vegetables they sell.”

With the British cucumber growing season in full swing, there are fears that consumers may avoid even local produce. “The big danger is for UK cucumber producers,” says Dodd. “If there’s a storm of unnecessary panic, they are [the ones] who will suffer.”

Derek Hargreaves, of the UK’s Cucumber Growers’ Association, said it was unlikely that cucumbers had caused the problem. “From a horticulturist’s point of view, it’s extremely difficult to get E coli into a cucumber,” he said. “People don’t spray slurry on to crops, even organic cucumbers. There are standards to follow and you’re just not allowed to do that.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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