Sprouted seed suppliers are looking to set up a new industry body and introduce a quality label in a bid to restore confidence after their products were implicated in E.coli outbreaks.

Freshfel, the European fresh produce association, this week sent a letter to sprouted seed suppliers across Europe, proposing the creation of a formal European Sprout Association and a quality label. The aim, Freshfel said, was to "guarantee a minimum level of food safety towards the authorities and the market".

There is already an International Sprout Growers Association, but this is largely focused on the US market. A European association, on the other hand, would work with EFSA, which will be compiling a risk assessment for sprouts over the coming weeks, and could respond specifically to the challenges faced by European suppliers, Freshfel said.

Jim Hardy, managing director of Aconbury Sprouts, said he welcomed the idea. "A quality label would reassure retailers and consumers, and it would weed out the cowboys," he said.

Freshfel's suggestion comes after raw sprouts were implicated in the deadly E.coli outbreak in Germany two months ago, and in an outbreak in France in June. At the beginning of the month, the UK's FSA advised consumers not to eat any raw sprouts, leading to many ready-to-eat sprouted seed products being taken off retailer shelves. The FSA revised its advice last Thursday, telling consumers that ready-to-eat products were safe to eat again. It also issued a Q&A document to the industry, outlining safety standards.

Northern Irish sprouted seed supplier Good4You, which had its products put on hold following the FSA's initial advice, said its products had now gone back into Sainsbury's. But Hardy at Aconbury said Waitrose was still not listing its products and had asked for more traceability information. "We're trying our best to deliver that information, but in the meantime, half our business is gone," he said.