Sunday, July 21, 2024

Supermarket sandwich supplier issues recall amid UK E coli outbreak

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The sandwich maker Greencore, which supplies big supermarkets including Asda and Sainsbury’s, is one of a number of companies recalling products after being potentially linked to a recent UK outbreak of E coli that caused dozens of people to be hospitalised.

It is understood that the company is recalling thousands of items, including at least 30 different sandwiches and wraps containing a certain variety of salad leaf linked to the outbreak identified this month by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The other manufacturers issuing recalls have yet to be identified as investigations are ongoing into exactly which products have been affected.

Sources said the items being recalled were not believed to contain E coli, as the batch of leaves affected has now been used up, but customers and retailers are being asked to return the items as a precaution.

They said the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and UKHSA are working on a statement after more than 100 people across the UK fell ill and dozens were hospitalised with food poisoning.

Andrew Opie, the director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Food safety is the highest priority for our members and those who sell or prepare food are well-versed in food safety measures. Following investigations by the FSA and UKHSA regulators, a number of manufacturers in the supply chain are taking precautionary measures and issuing a recall notice for a small number of products.

“Retailers affected are taking swift action to remove these products from sale and are working closely with the Food Standards Agency to take any further action needed to minimise risk to their customers.”

Earlier this month UKHSA said 113 recent UK cases of E coli since 25 May were thought to be part of a single outbreak, which is most likely linked to a “nationally distributed food item or multiple food items” the wide geographic spread of cases, according to the agency.

At that time there had been 81 cases in England – 37 of whom were hospitalised as a result – 18 in Wales, 13 in Scotland, and one person in Northern Ireland who believes they contracted the illness in England. It is understood the total number of cases has now risen.

The cases were described as being part of a single outbreak, most likely linked to a “nationally distributed food item or multiple food items” because of the wide geographic spread of cases, according to the UKHSA.

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Of the 81 cases in England, 61 provided the UKHSA with information regarding food, travel and potential exposures. All of the cases have been linked to Shiga toxin-producing E coli O145 (Stec).

The UKHSA has been working with public health agencies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland to try to determine the cause of the outbreak.

E coli is a large group of bacteria, with some strains producing toxins that can make people severely ill. Symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps and a high fever.

Further complications could include thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which is when blood clots form throughout the body as a result of the illness. Some patients may also develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is life threatening and linked to kidney failure.

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