Egypt exporters urge ban of vegetable exports to EU be lifted after testing clear of E. coli

Bassem Abo Alabass, Saturday 1 Oct 2011

After testing clears Egypt of responsibility for Europe's E. coli outbreak, Egypt's Agriculture Export Council chairman urges the EU to formally lift the ban on exports

Seeds
Egyptian Sprouting seeds still face the EU's ban Photo: Reuters

Egypt urges the EU commission to formally publish a lift on the export of Egyptian vegetables and seeds that was placed after being accused of June's deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe. The tests of the alleged source of E. coli in Egypt were returned negative, however, the main exporter claims that Egyptian vegetables are still banned from entering the EU.

Egypt's chairman of the Agricultural Export Council, Sherif El-Beltagy, told Ahram Online he hopes to resume exporting non-sprouting seeds approximately in the first week of October.

El-Beltagy explains that the EU ban was imposed on two categories of Egyptian seeds: regular grains and sprouting seeds so, the ban lift concerns the first category. The second, such as fenugreek, would be suspended until Egypt responds to EU’s recommendations,” he added.

“EU demands that Egyptian sprouting seeds surpass EU's Codex standards to ensure that they are not infected with E. coli.” said El-Beltagy.

On 24 August, 2011 the Ukrainian government said it will lift the ban on the import of Egyptian vegetables and seeds it placed after Egypt was accused of being the source of June's deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe.

The Ukraine officially informed Egypt of its decision on Wednesday, giving rise to hopes that the Europe-wide ban on 15 Egyptian sprouting seeds and beans, set for reconsideration at the end of October, can be lifted sooner.

On 6 July, 2011 Ayman Abo Hadid told the Al-Ahram daily newspaper that the EU commission, through the German government, informed his ministry that Egyptian seeds tested negative for E. coli contamination, proving the country's produce was not responsible for the deadly outbreak.
 
Furthermore, officials at the Ministry of Agriculture told Ahram Online that Egyptian and American laboratories tested the seeds from the Egyptian farm suspected of starting the lethal outbreak in Europe and they were E. coli-free.
 
"The central laboratories of the Ministry of Health along with US Naval Medical Research Unit 3 in Cairo (NAMRU) did not find traces [of E. coli] in seed samples taken from the suspected Egyptian farm," said a ministry official, denying Egypt is the source of the crisis.
 
Bernardino León, the EU's special representative for the southern Mediterranean region, had said at a press conference held at the EU headquarters to Egypt on 10 August, 2011 that the European Union will resume imports and increase orders for Egyptian production if it finds a solution to the current dispute over the alleged E. coli infection.

In July the European Union temporarily banned the import of certain seeds from Egypt until October after some were linked to a deadly E.coli outbreak in Germany and France.

Member states, says the EU, must ensure that all "seeds imported from one Egyptian exporter between 2009 and 2011 are withdrawn from the market, sampled and destroyed."

Short link: