Qatar suspends vegetables import from Spain, Germany amid E. coli outbreak

June 5, 2011

Qatar has banned the import of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce from Spain and Germany amid an E. coli outbreak that has killed 19 people.

The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said it decided to impose a temporary ban on the three products, but would not “hesitate to ban all vegetables from all European countries if necessary”, an official said, Qatari media reported.

All but one of the fatalities since the outbreak of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) poisoning began last month have been in Germany. A patient who died in Sweden had recently returned from Germany.

The decision to ban the imports was taken on the recommendations of the Joint Human Food Control Committee at an emergency meeting, a SCH source said.

A health certificate must attest that fresh vegetable and fruit shipments coming from other European countries are free from EHEC.

The SCH called upon all food importers to abide by the ban and urged residents to wash all vegetables and fruits thoroughly before consuming them.

The SCH also reminded doctors and health workers at Hamad Medical Corporation and the Primary Health Care to investigate closely any patient who suffers from diarrhoea with blood in stool accompanied by stomach colic, especially those who had recently come to Qatar from the European countries that had reported EHEC cases.

The Department of Public Health at the SCH advised passengers who are travelling to the infected countries to avoid having fresh and raw vegetables until things settled down. They are also advised to wash their hands repeatedly, especially before preparing and eating their food, and after using the bathroom. Children’s caretakers were particularly advised to observe these precautions.

The SCH said it would, in co-operation with the Joint Human Food Control Committee, “monitor the situation closely on the basis of the regular reports issued by competent international organisations”.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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