Vietnam to destroy vegetables from Europe over E. coli threat

TN News

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Thursday asked concerned agencies to destroy fresh fruit and vegetables brought by tourists from Europe over concerns about the deadly E.coli outbreak.

Food safety experts said that the Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak can spread to Vietnam through vegetables imported from Europe, including cucumber, lettuce, tomato and beans, or those brought by the tourists themselves. 

The ministry has asked Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to order the Customs General Department to work with fresh produce inspectors at airports and border gates to revoke and destroy any vegetables brought by the tourists.

Tourists bringing fresh produce is not forbidden in Vietnam. The country has not made any specific policies concening fresh produce imports from Europe.

Since last month, Escherichia coli O104:H4, a lethal strain of the bacterium found in cucumbers, has killed 30 people and infected another 3,000 across Europe, mainly in Germany, AFP reported. Germany is still investigating the cause of contamination.

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Vietnam over the past three months has imported around 20 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables from Europe, mostly potatoes, Holland beans and frozen strawberries. But authorities recently said that it is only by mid-July that domestic inspectors be able to track the lethal strain.

Several local health officials warned that Vietnamese vegetables face high risk of catching the E. coli outbreak as farmers mostly use sewage and muddy water taken from streams, lake and rivers, to irrigate their crops.

Certain strains of E. coli are a major cause of food borne illness.

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