In the end, it turned out to be the bean sprouts – and not the Spanish cucumbers – wot dunnit.

The head of Germany’s national disease control centre, Reinhard Burger, has admitted that locally grown bean sprouts caused the European E. coli outbreak that has killed 29 and made ill nearly 3,000. 

Even though no tests of the sprouts from a farm in Lower Saxony had come back positive, Burger was satisfied that the epidemiological investigation of the pattern of the outbreak had produced enough evidence to draw the conclusion.

“It is the sprouts,” Burger said. He added that the institute is lifting its warning against eating cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce but keeping the warning in place for the sprouts.

Initially, German authorities blamed Spanish cucumbers and later extended health warnings to all raw vegetables, sparking a consumer panic across Europe that has devastated the agriculture industry.

Earlier his week, John Dalli, the EU’s food safety commissioner, attacked Germany for giving out unverified warnings on the cause of outbreak which triggered a consumer panic, now estimated to be costing European farmers £200 million a week.