Initial tests showed that vegetable sprouts grown on an organic farm in northern Germany are not the source of the deadliest known E. coli outbreak in modern history, German officials said Monday.
According to Lower-Saxony state's agriculture ministry, 23 of 40 samples from the sprout farm in question have tested negative for the relevant bacteria.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the EU outbreak has climbed to at least 22 and more than 2,200 have fallen ill.
"What's unusual in this situation is that the percentage of people who actually have severe complications is higher than we expect," said Dr. Andrea Ellis, an epidemiologist for the World Health Organization's department of Food Safety and Zoonoses.
The outbreak has managed to highlight the disunity under the surface in the European Union. Germany was quick to blame Spanish produce for the outbreak.
Farmers in Spain have complained those accusations have had a devastating effect on their business.
"We demand responsibility from Germany, for these unfair damages wrongfully caused to our products. We will look for Spain to be rightfully compensated because of the damages caused, which are considerable," Spanish Minister of Environmental, Rural and Marine Affairs Rosa Aguilar said.
Meanwhile, the German farm where the vegetable sprouts were grown has been shut down and all its produce recalled. But experts say more cases of the illness are likely for at least another week.