BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - Two people suffering from E.coli infections in the French city of Bordeaux have the same strain as that which caused scores of deaths in Germany, French authorities said.
The French commerce ministry said it had ordered stores to suspend the sale of fenugreek, mustard and rocket seeds which the consumer safety authority believed had been supplied by British company Thompson & Morgan in the eastern town of Ipswich while a possible link to the illnesses was investigated.
"The link between the symptoms and consumption of these seeds has so far not been definitively established," the ministry said in a statement issued on Friday.
"According to information in the possession of the DGCCRF (consumer authority), the supplier is a British firm, Thompson & Morgan, based in Ipswich," it said.
While awaiting the results of analyses, the government had instructed the DGCCRF "to ask sellers of fenugreek, mustard and rocket seeds coming from supplier Thompson & Morgan to suspend the sale of these products without delay."
The company did not immediately respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment.
Ten E.coli cases have been detected in Bordeaux and seven people were still hospitalized on Friday, said Doctor Joao Simoes, who heads the regional health agency.
Regional health official Patrick Rolland told journalists that initial tests showed that two of the patients had an E.coli strain identical to that which has caused nearly 40 deaths mostly in Germany.
Health authorities in Germany have linked the epidemic to contaminated bean sprouts and shoots from a German organic farm sold to consumers and restaurants for eating in salads.
Six of the people hospitalized in Bordeaux are known to have eaten such foods during a fair at a leisure center on June 8 in the Bordeaux suburb of Begles.
French health authorities have said there did not appear to be any link between the cases in Bordeaux and an outbreak last week of E.coli infections near Lille, in northern France, that made eight children ill.
(Reporting by Sophie Louet and Leigh Thomas; editing by David Stamp)