The Madeleine Brand Show for June 1, 2011

The mystery behind Europe's deadly E. coli outbreak

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AFP/Jorge Guerrero

A farm worker throws away cucumbers into a container outside a greenhouse on June 1, 2011 in Algarrobo, near Malaga. A virulent form of the bacterium E. coli has killed 16 people in Germany and sickened 300. Germany acquitted Spain yesterday of being the source of infection. Spain's First Vice President and Minister of Interior, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, announced today that the government does not rule out taking 'action against Hamburg authorities who questioned the quality of Spanish products'

In Europe, an extremely rare form of E. coli is responsible for one of the largest outbreaks of the disease ever recorded. 17 people have died in Germany and more than 1500 sickened. And there have been more cases reported in 8 other European countries. It's still a mystery exactly what caused the outbreak, but officials suspect it came from either raw lettuce, tomatoes or cucumbers. What is it that makes this strain worse than normal? Madeleine speaks to Sarah Klein, a food safety attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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