Tests show our organic mushrooms are safe, says Tesco after E.coli scare

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The Independent Online

The supermarket chain Tesco was last night reassuring customers that its organic mushrooms are safe, following an earlier warning that they could be infected with the deadly E.coli.

Laboratory results have shown that the suspect bacteria, discovered during routine tests, was not the deadly E.coli 0157 but a harmless variant, Tesco said yesterday.

The vegetables were grown in Ireland but it was feared they could have been contaminated by Belgian manure.

Shoppers had been warned not to eat 200g packs of organic mushrooms bought from Tesco supermarkets with a display date of May and the chain withdrew all mushrooms from its stores as a precaution.

Alan McLaughlin, a Tesco spokesman, said: "We didn't take this lightly. The brand is at stake, safety is at stake and the customer has to come first. We've got to go over the top in these situations."

Previous poisoning scares involving Belgian products have included meat products, such as pâté, and soft drinks made by Coca-Cola.

* The Food Standards Agency has ordered health food shops to remove any products containing extract of the sweet herb Stevia Rebaudianaherb from their shelves.

Male gardeners were yesterday warned that the seeds of the herb, used as a wartime sugar substitute, could make them infertile.

The seeds, which grow into a foliage plant about 18 inches tall, are widely used in Japan and South America as a calorie-free sweetener.