Restrictions imposed against Egypt during this year’s E. coli O104:H4 outbreaks in Germany and France have been lifted by the European Commission (EC). 

Fresh and chilled peas and beans from Egypt may again be imported into the European Union (EU) counties. In an emergency action in July, the EC had banned the import of fenugreek and certain seeds, sprouts and beans imported from Egypt until Oct. 31.

According to the Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom, the EC reassessed the risk from Egyptian peas and beans following an audit of production sites in Egypt.

Earlier, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had lifted its warning against eating raw sprouts or growing them at home because it determined no more fenugreek seeds from Egypt were left in Europe’s market.

Fenugreek seeds from Egypt were found to be the most likely source of the E. coli O104:H4 outbreak that, according to the EFSA wrap-up report, sickened 3,134 and killed at least 47.  The confirmed cases included 778 who developed the kidney damaging disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

The wrap-up report also said an additional 119 cases and four deaths may have been part of the outbreak.

A single batch of fenugreek seeds originally suppled by a Egyptian company to a German distributor is the most likely link between the outbreaks in the two counties.

The ban that remains on fenugreek seeds for sprouting until the end of October does not include ground spices for cooking or products with fenugreek as an ingredient.

The EFSA says the evidence linking the outbreaks to the implicated batch of fenugreek seeds was not definitive and investigations have continued in all European counties.

Port health officials have been notified about the changes, which take effect immediately.