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'No viruses found' on berries blamed for food poisoning

By Hu Min (Shanghai Daily)

10:19, October 12, 2012

NO disease-causing viruses were found on Chinese frozen strawberries said to have been behind a food poisoning outbreak in Germany, China's quality watchdog said yesterday.

The noroviruses, suspected of sickening more than 11,000 students in east Germany, were not found on samples from the Chinese company that exported the strawberries, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement.

All the company's inventory had been sealed for investigation and lab tests had returned no evidence to indicate the strawberries were contaminated before being exported, the administration said.

The company, based in east China's Shandong Province, had exported frozen strawberries to eight other nations this year but no similar incidents had been reported, it said without identifying the company or the eight countries, Xinhua news agency reported.

The administration noted that the German side needed further investigation to identify the source of contamination as frozen strawberries had a long supply chain that included production, transportation, distribution and catering.

It said China would like to cooperate with the European Union and Germany in the investigation.

Earlier, the Chinese Embassy in Germany had taken issue with German media reports that blamed the strawberries for the country's biggest food poisoning case, China National Radio reported.

The students had suffered from diarrhea after eating at school canteens in late September. They were found to have been infected with noroviruses, the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis, and the viruses were said to have been found in a batch of strawberry samples from China by the Robert Koch Institute, the German body responsible for disease control and prevention.

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