Skip to main content

At least 2 more people die in German E. coli outbreak

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
E. coli fears result in destroyed food
  • NEW: EU agrees to 210 million euros to compensate farmers
  • The outbreak has killed 25 people, all but one of them in Germany
  • Germany's health minister says the rate of infection is falling
  • Bean sprouts are suspected of being the source but tests have not proven it

(CNN) -- The European Union on Wednesday agreed to pay 210 million euros ($307 million) to farmers who suffered losses due to the E.coli outbreak that has killed at least 25 people, mostly in Germany.

The figure is up considerably from the 150 million euros EU agriculture officials proposed Tuesday, and Dacion Ciolos, the EU's agriculture commissioner, said that figure may change again.

"This envelope will enable us to respond to the compensation requests for the period from the 26th of May through to the end of June," Ciolos said. "We will then take stock of the situation and see whether we need to adjust these figures."

Farmers in several European countries are seeking to be paid back for losses they suffered after being wrongly blamed for the outbreak. Farmers who grow cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and lettuce will be eligible to receive up to 50 percent of the average market price they would have received, based on figures from 2008-2010, the EU said.

How to protect yourself from E. coli
The economics of E. Coli
Officials struggle with E. coli crisis
Spain lashes out over E. coli crisis
  • E. Coli
  • Food Safety
  • Germany

Some producers could get up to 70 percent of market prices when funds from EU-supported producer organizations are included, Ciolos said.

The planned settlement still needs to be accepted by EU member states on June 14, Ciolos said. Spain alone has sought more than 400 million euros ($600 million) in lost farm exports of cucumbers, tomatoes and other produce from the past few weeks, and farmers in Belgium, France, Holland and even Germany say they have millions in losses, too.

The death toll from the outbreak rose to 25 on Wednesday as German health authorities confirmed two more E.coli fatalities there. All but one of the 25 were in Germany, while the remaining victim died in Sweden after a having visited Germany.

Local officials in the German state of Lower Saxony said another man, aged 73, also died, but he had other health problems as well, so they are not certain his death was due to E. coli.

There are a total 2,648 cases of E. coli infection in Germany, according to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's top health authority. But Health Minister Daniel Bahr said Wednesday the number of new cases of infection has been falling significantly.

There have also been a handful of infections in a dozen other European countries, but they appear to be linked to northern Germany.

The cause of the 10-day-old crisis still has not been conclusively identified. There was no trace of E. coli in a pack of bean sprouts in a household in Hamburg, where a man had become infected, health authorities there told CNN Tuesday.

The sprouts came from the farm which officials believe could be the source of the outbreak. But initial tests showed no sign of E. coli there, agriculture officials in the German state of Lower Saxony said Monday.

But authorities said that does not mean their suspicions were wrong; they would not expect to find evidence of E. coli if the tainted sprouts were no longer in the supply chain.

And Wednesday, Lower Saxony agriculture officials said three workers at the suspect farm had diarrhea in early May and at least one has been diagnosed with the dangerous strain of E.coli.

Authorities have also found that a cafeteria in the town of Cuxhaven, where 18 people came down with the infection, had also received sprouts from the farm in question, said Natascha Manski, a spokeswoman for the state agriculture ministry.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Berlin and David Wilkinson in London contributed to this report.