How to say cucumber in Spanish

Later acquittal for Spain's pickle

The Spaniards blame German crisis management for the fact that sales of their cucumbers and tomatoes in Europe have almost come to a standstill. Since EHEC pathogens were discovered on cucumbers from southern Spain in Hamburg, more and more EU countries had closed their borders to Spanish vegetables and plunged the country's agriculture into its worst crisis in recent history. Tons of freshly harvested crops had to be shredded, plowed under or thrown in the garbage. The industry puts the vegetable farmers' losses at up to 200 million euros per week.

On Tuesday (May 31, 2011) Hamburg's Senator for Health, Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks, admitted that the EHEC pathogens discovered on Spanish cucumbers were apparently not responsible for the wave of disease in northern Germany. This was the result of a laboratory test in two out of three Spanish cucumbers seized.

No all-clear for consumers

The health senator said that the source of the life-threatening illnesses is still in the dark. Last week in Hamburg, EHEC pathogens were discovered on three Spanish cucumbers and one cucumber of unknown origin. However, the EHEC type could only now be identified. And since then it has been clear: The bacterial strains on the Spanish vegetables do not match the type O104, which leads to the life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a serious complication in EHEC sufferers, which in the worst case leads to blood changes and kidney failure.

Currently difficult to sell: fresh salad and raw vegetables

However, Prüfer-Storcks did not want the acquittal for the Spanish cucumbers to be understood as the all-clear: The contaminated cucumbers are in any case not harmless because they carry an EHEC pathogen, said the head of the Hamburg health authorities. The official consumption warning is also correct, because the protection of life must be more important than economic interests. The urgent advice of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) therefore continues to apply, especially in northern Germany, as a precaution, not to eat raw cucumbers, tomatoes or lettuce.

Diplomatic upsets and trade disputes

In Spain, the "boycott" of Spanish cucumbers and tomatoes is not only considered unjustified, but also a violation of EU rules. "Germany is the strongest country in the EU, but it must not proceed according to its mood," said the Prime Minister of Andalusia, José Antonio Griñán. The Spanish Agriculture Minister Rosa Aguilar shares the same message: "We are disappointed with the way Germany has dealt with this crisis," she said and announced that she would demand compensation at EU level for all European farmers who have lost money due to EHEC . Nobody was directly infected with EHEC in their country. This shows that the cause could also lie elsewhere. Spain demands that all trade in its vegetables must be resumed immediately.

The "cucumber crisis" caused not only diplomatic resentment, but also a trade dispute. Spain accuses other EU states of using the crisis only as a pretext to protect their own farmers from unpleasant competition from Spain. "We learned that France is also rejecting Spanish peaches at the border," reported the Andalusian Minister of Agriculture, Clara Aguilera. The export of plums, blueberries and raspberries from Spain is also facing obstacles.

Quick test should make the search easier

The search for the source of the EHEC infection must now start again from scratch. Hamburg's Senator for Health Prüfer-Storcks said that a number of other foods were also examined in the Hanseatic City's Hygiene Institute. A new rapid test from Münster may help, which can detect the life-threatening intestinal germ within a few hours - both in humans and on vegetables. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin has also developed a specific detection system for the current EHEC germ in food. These tests are intended to help uncover the source of the infection with the EHEC strain O104 and to quickly remove the high-risk foods from the market.

The number of fatalities in Germany is now 15 - 13 of them are women.

Author: Rolf Breuch (afp, dapd, dpa, rtr)
Editor: Julia Elvers-Guyot