"Our customers scrubbed and scrubbed days on end"

Farm minister Ducarme has banned catering business Esthio from Harelbeke from providing school meals.  The company is held responsible for a salmonella outbreak in dozens of schools across East and West Flanders.

Last week the Federal Food Safety Agency (FFSA) gave the go ahead for the company to resume supplying school meals, after no trace of salmonella contamination could be found. But Mr Ducarme is eager to see the results of additional tests.  450 pupils fell ill, but the exact source of the poisoning is unclear.

Speaking via a spokesman Mr Ducarme noted that he wanted to rule out any risk: "Numerous questions regarding the cause of the contamination remain.  It's my priority to exclude all risk.  Over 400 pupils were infected.  Many had to go to hospital."

Esthio's Brecht Vervaeck: "We are deeply disappointed by the decision.  My father even had to be taken to hospital in a state of shock.  We did everything to meet the conditions of the FFSA.  Even our customers scrubbed and scrubbed days on end."

Schools across East and West Flanders are up in arms at the minister's decision slating what they call late communication that hadn't been thought through.