Trade Ministry holds emergency meeting over EU ban on Egyptian seeds

Officials at Egypt's Ministry of Trade and Industry will convene for an urgent meeting on Wednesday to discuss the consequences of a recent European Union (EU) ban on Egyptian seed imports.

The EU imposed the ban Tuesday after it was revealed that Egyptian fenugreek may have been the source of a massive  E. Coli outbreak, which has claimed the lives of around 50 and made thousands ill since early June.

According to the head of the Agricultural Exports Council, Sherif al-Beltagy, the ministry meeting will be attended by the General Organization for Export and Import Control, the Central Administration for Agricultural Quarantine and the Food Safety Agency.

The meeting will discuss a unified response to the EU move, which came one day after Egypt's Ministry of Agriculture asserted the safety of Egyptian exports to Europe.

Beltagy said he believed the EU was hasty in adopting the ban. He said the EU was relying on seed sample analyses and had not yet announced the results of its tests.

The EU decided to withdraw all fenugreek imported from Egypt between 2009 and 2011 from its markets.

The measure followed recommendations from Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Robert Koch Institute, the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety, and the European Food Safety Authority, which concluded that the seeds were the most likely common cause of the outbreak.

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