MADRID (Reuters) - Spain said on Wednesday it was considering legal action against German regional authorities for blaming its produce for an E. coli outbreak that has killed 16 people in Germany, Sweden and other countries.
Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba recalled that on May 26 health authorities in the German state of Hamburg said Spanish cucumbers were found to be contaminated with E.coli, but did not show Spain was the source of the strain.
“There has never been a case of this nature in Spain, which means the bacteria is not in Spain,” Rubalcaba told Cadena Ser, Spain’s most listened-to radio station.
“We do not rule out taking action against authorities which have cast doubt on the quality of our produce, so action may be taken against the authorities, in this case, of Hamburg,” he added.
German officials admitted on Tuesday that the latest tests showed the cucumbers did not carry the dangerous bacteria strain connected to the outbreak.
In the meanwhile, Spanish farmers say lost sales are costing them 200 million euros a week and the crisis could put 70,000 out of work in a country which already has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union.
Reporting by Martin Roberts, editing by Paul Taylor