Shropshire Star

Major food-maker recalls products over potential link to E.coli outbreak

The products being recalled include sandwiches, wraps and salads sold at Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Morrisons, Co-op, and retail pharmacy chain Boots.

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A food manufacturer is recalling sandwiches, wraps and salads sold in major UK supermarkets because of a potential link to an E.coli outbreak that left a number of people across the UK in hospital.

Officials said the move by Greencore Group is a “precautionary measure”.

The products being recalled include sandwiches, wraps and salads sold at Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Morrisons, Co-op, and retail pharmacy chain Boots.

It is understood that further product recall notices from other manufacturers will be issued shortly.

Darren Whitby, head of incidents at the Food Standards Agency, said:  “Sandwich manufacturers are taking a precautionary measure to recall various sandwiches wraps and salads in response to findings from investigations by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), who are working to identify the cause of an ongoing outbreak caused by shiga toxin-producing E.coli (Stec).”

Greencore Group said in a statement: “As a precautionary measure, we have voluntarily recalled a number of sandwiches and wraps due to a potential food safety risk.

“Greencore adheres to the highest standards of food safety, and we are working closely with the Food Standards Agency and our suppliers to better understand the possible source of any potential issue.”

E. coli are a diverse group of bacteria that are normally harmless and live in the intestines of humans and animals.

However some strains, like Stec, can make people very ill.

The FSA advises any consumers who have any of the products being recalled not to eat them.

As of June 11, the number of cases associated with the Stec outbreak is 211, an increase of 98 since a previous update from UKHSA on June 6.

Based on information from 160 cases to date, 42% were admitted to hospital, UKHSA said.

Trish Mannes, incident director at UKHSA, said: “We would like to thank all the cases who have provided information that has enabled us, through epidemiological analysis of questionnaire data and food-tracing investigations, to narrow down the likely food product linked to this outbreak.”

Earlier this month, the agency confirmed at least 37 people had been admitted to hospital following the E. coli outbreak, which it believed to be linked to food.

Whole genome sequencing of samples showed the majority of the 113 cases reported across the UK between May 25 and June 24 were part of a single outbreak.

At the time, the agency said it believed the outbreak, which mostly affected young adults, was linked to a nationally distributed food item or multiple food items.

Some 81 cases were confirmed in England, with 18 in Wales, 13 in Scotland and one person in Northern Ireland who believes they fell ill in England.

People infected with Stec can suffer diarrhoea, and about 50% of cases have bloody diarrhoea.

Other symptoms include stomach cramps and fever. Symptoms can last up to two weeks in uncomplicated cases.

Some patients, mainly children, may develop haemolytic uraemic syndrome which is a serious life-threatening condition resulting in kidney failure.

A small proportion of adults may develop a similar condition called thrombotic thrombocytopaenic purpura (TTP).

Mr Whitby added: “This is a complex investigation, and we have worked swiftly with the relevant businesses and the local authorities concerned to narrow down the wide range of foods consumed to a small number of salad leaf products that have been used in sandwiches and wraps.

“Following thorough food chain analysis, these products are being recalled as a precaution.

“The FSA is here to ensure that food is safe. If there are products on the market that are not, we won’t hesitate to take action to remove them.”

Andrew Opie, 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.”

An Asda spokesman said: “We have been made aware by Greencore, who supply Asda and other retailers with pre-packed sandwiches, that they are recalling a number of products as a precaution because of the possible presence of E.coli.

“The full list of products is available on the Asda product recalls webpage. If you have purchased any of these products, do not eat them, please bring them back to your nearest store where you will be given a full refund. You do not need your receipt.”

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