A Spanish MEP has made a plea for “the honour of the cucumber” to be restored in the wake of the German E.coli outbreak which has cost EU salad and vegetable growers more than £1billion.

Spanish MEP Francisco Sosa Wagner made the plea in European Parliament while wielding a cucumber to drive home his point.

The E.coli outbreak which originated in Germany five weeks ago, and has claimed the lives of 24 people, was initially blamed on Spanish cucumber and salads.

However tests showed the cucumber to be free of e.coli contamination causing outrage in Spain where plummeting sales continue to cost farmers £300million a week as they dump tonnes of the vegetable.

German-grown beansprouts were the next suspects to be singled out but they too have tested negative with experts predicting it may be weeks before the true culprit is found.

Meanwhile German Health Minister Daniel Bahr claimed the worst of the outbreak is over.

“I can’t yet cancel the warnings, but we now have reasons to hope as the number of new infections is continuously dropping,” he said on television.

“There will likely still be new cases, and we must unfortunately still reckon with new deaths, but the number of new infections is clearly dropping, and the worst of the illness is behind us,” he added.

Confirmed infections in Germany stood at 2,325  with 75 percent of cases in the north and northwest of Germany.All but one of the 24 deaths has been in Germany.

Germany battles to stop cucumber bacteria