Suspected EHEC seeds tracked to Sweden

A consignment of fenugreek seeds, from the batch believed to be the source of the EHEC infection in Germany and France, has been tracked to Sweden, according to the Swedish National Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket).

Suspected EHEC seeds tracked to Sweden

The seeds have been recalled but 25 kilos have already arrived in Sweden. The National Food Administration has contacted the company Econova in Norrköping, who in their turn have stopped the sales and recalled already delivered bags of seeds.

“Common denominators between the outbreaks in France and Germany have been compared and authorities have been able to track it back to this product,” said Lars Plym Forshell from the Food Administration to TT.

According to Plym Forshell the seeds originated in Egypt and this consignment is believed to have arrived in Sweden as early as in January 2010.

Fenugreek is largely used in curry mixes and products from the suspected assignment have been sold to stores all over the country.

But wholesaler Econova hasn’t learned of any customers falling sick so far despite 6,277 bags having been sold during 2011.

“We started contacting our customers on Friday and have continued today. We’re asking them to remove the product from shop shelves and none of the suspected products are now going out to our customers, “ said Johan Rydberg of Econova to TT.

Rydberg pointed out to TT that this is a precautionary measure as there is only a strong suspicion that it is the fenugreek seeds that have spread the EHEC disease.

“No such infection has actually been confirmed yet,” Rydberg told TT.

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Banned substance found in Swedish candy bars

The makers of Sweden's Kexchoklad chocolate bars have halted production of the popular treat after a substance banned by the EU for use in food production was found at a Swedish factory.

Banned substance found in Swedish candy bars

Companies Cloetta and Göteborgs Kex were also forced to halt production of Smörgåsrån crackers and Sportlunch candy bars following the discovery of the antibiotic chloramphenicol.

According to Sweden’s National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), however, the levels of chloramphenicol are so low that the substance doesn’t pose a risk to consumers. As a result, no general recall of the products is planned.

Chloramphenicol has been widely used previously as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. It’s inexpensive and can be used to fight a number of different bacteria.

It’s rarely used in Sweden, however, due to known the adverse side-effect of bone marrow toxicity.

Today, chloramphenicol is used primarily to treat eye infections.

Cloetta spokesman Jacob Broberg said the discovery of chloramphenicol at its production facilities can likely be traced to an enzyme used as one of the ingredients.

“What’s seems to have happened is that one of our suppliers has changed producers and that producer didn’t inform the supplier,” he told the TT news agency.

He added that responsibility for ensuring products contain the right ingredients lies with the suppliers, although Cloetta does regular testing as well.

“In this case, we didn’t know exactly what they were looking for, which makes it hard to find it. What was in the enzyme isn’t something we normally look for,” said Broberg.

The enzyme responsible for the chloramphenicol contamination was quickly removed from the production chain, meaning there’s little risk that fans of the crispy chocolate treats will find them hard to come by.

TT/The Local/dl

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