Editorial 16: The necessity to reform the sanitary alerts
Apart from expressing our condolences to the families of death people and regretting the loss of human being lives, due to the infectious outbreak in Germany, it seems fair enough to remember that between 2001 and 2003 the Spanish Administration decreed several withdrawals from the market, of foods and veterinary medicaments, basing on the precaution principle.
The absence of foundation, thus the absence of real danger for the public health, of these actions caused losses to Spanish companies in feed and pharmaceutical sector. In that occasion neither the Public officers nor the District Attorney’s office of the State, nor politicians had into account the allegations of the affected companies and kept their measures as inappropriate as the measures taken currently by Germany against Spanish vegetables.
Finally, thank to the perseverance of the affected companies , in 2005 the hall #4 of the National Audience revoked the procedure for withdrawal of certain veterinary medicaments for having informed other entities before than the affected ones, and denying the existence of serious risk and imminent for the public or animal health. In 2007, the Supreme Tribunal pronounced null the withdrawal of certain oil of orujo (strong alcoholic liquor distilled from grape or herbs pressings) in the Spanish market on July 3rd 2001.
Curiously, the Spanish Administration during last few days has experienced a sanitary alert decreed by the German administration, in relation to the consumption of certain Spanish vegetables which were supposedly contaminated by a strain of E. coli.
However, the currently attitude of the Spanish Administration is opposite to their attitude in 2001-2003, even some statements of indignation have been heard recently, by demanding compensations to the German Government for acting as the Spanish administration did in 2001-2003.
Therefore we think necessary to make some scientific considerations and a later reflection.
From the scientific point of view, it is unacceptable to accuse one product, as the origin of an epidemic without knowing the main data. The Koch’s Principles should have been taken into account, as the biochemical characteristics of the microorganism and the necessary infective dose as well as the clinical history of the affected by the epidemic and other possible causes.
From the reflective point of view is unacceptable to close markets for a precautionary principle, as it is unacceptable that those who have also applied this principle, disclosed it in the media. Their supposed outrage by claiming compensation, especially taking into account that they acted a few years ago in an identical manner, without caring about the damage done to the agricultural, livestock and industrial sectors.
Regarding the Koch’s principles, we will appoint that is not enough isolating a microorganism in a ill or death human being to determine the reason of his death or illness. Therefore, at the moment we cannot confirm that the mentioned microorganisms are the responsible of this illness so it is not acceptable disclose the origin of it publicly.
As a curiosity, the German institute that investigates the case from the epidemiological point of view is called Robert Koch Institute and the experts have not yet been able to agree as some of them attributes the illness to E. coli O104: H4 (enter hemorrhagic) other attribute it to E. coli 55 989 (whole aggregative) and may, therefore, appear other causes.
Regarding the biochemical characteristics of the microorganism E.coli O104: H4 hemorrhagic, it must be producer of verocytotoxin (common name of toxins Shiga Kiyoshi Shiga described by a case of dysentery caused by Shigella dysenteriae). The verification test for production of verocytotoxin requires an essay on cultured kidney cells Cercopithecus aethiops monkey, and therefore it is premature to make this claim.
Finally, from the scientific point of view, we must consider the infective dose. We will point out that raw vegetables have strange flavours in case they have been contaminated with fecal material and that a simply washing with water or with a disinfectant (It is understood that German consumers have normal hygiene habits) would reduce the possibilities of high concentrations in bacteria. This leads to the need for an epidemiological study and the study of other circumstances as the pictures of immunosuppression or other conditions which leads in turn to look at other possible causes of the epidemic.
Thus, from the scientific point of view it is unacceptable to blame one vegetable of an epidemic outbreak without knowing exactly its ethiology nor its origin, and then saying that this is not the origin of the infection, as they did some years ago to withdraw some products from the Spanish market.
As a reflection of alleged indignation and claims for compensations, we should remember that, in other countries, the authorities that are now claiming, have made the same mistakes. The damage caused by the Spanish administration to the Spanish oil industry were 120 m euros and damage to the pharmaceutical industry is still to be evaluated, while damage to the agricultural industry are being tested in Spanish about 1000 m euros.
Now the chain has a new link with the closing of borders Russia, the European products, the precautionary principle. It seems like a bad joke but it is the logical consequence of a grotesque situation. The Russians closed their borders to the precautionary principle and the Europeans consider that the measure is disproportionate and not based on scientific criteria. Before the Europeans closed their borders to the precautionary principle and the Spanish considered the disproportionate and not based on science. 10 years ago the Spanish withdrew from the market products using disproportionate and not based on scientific criteria as demonstrated by the judgments of the Court and the Supreme Court. So we have no reason to give them all: Spanish, Europeans and Russians have taken a disproportionate and not based on scientific criteria. Everyone should shut up, embarrassed, apologize and reflect on the need to reform the health warnings to avoid in the future to continue giving these arrogant attitudes and protect public health in an efficient, because remember that while developing the shameful spectacle followed sick and dying innocent citizens.
Whatever the outcome of all these absurdities injured are always the same: people sick or dead and the food industry.
While those responsible for these false health scares, are still administration for collecting his salary every month with money from the taxes of those who have given those who have not harmed or defended, and using an argument or counter argument by the side of the table are caught the situation. So along with the necessary reform should move away from the public to all officials and politicians who have acted disproportionately and without scientific basis and ask personal liability without any recourse to the state vicariously liable.