E. coli outbreaks in Germany and France could have come from seeds sourced in Egypt, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said.
A report said there was still “much uncertainty”, but fenugreek seeds imported in 2009 and 2010 “had been implicated in both outbreaks”.
More than 4,000 people were infected during the German outbreak, 48 died.
Investigators traced the source back to a bean sprout farm in Bienenbuettel, Lower Saxony.
The outbreak in Bordeaux affected 15 people and was linked to seeds sold by a firm in the UK – Thompson and Morgan, although it said there was no evidence of a link.
Both outbreaks involved the rare strain of E. coli known as O104:H4.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said the strain was so rare in humans the outbreaks were unlikely to have been isolated incidents and both were linked to eating sprouting seeds.
Further investigations have been trying to determine if the source of the infection was contamination at the sites, or if they had been supplied with contaminated seeds.