E. coli outbreak: Third food company recalls product over contamination fears

THIS! has recalled one of its wraps Credit: THIS!/PA

A third food company has recalled one of its products over fears of possible E. coli contamination.

THIS! has urged customers to avoid eating its vegan chicken and bacon wrap, which is exclusively sold at WH Smith.

The food manufacturer has warned that anyone who has purchased the product, up to and including June 18, should not eat it and instead return it to a store for a full refund.

No E. coli has been found in the product and THIS! explained it is a "precautionary measure" in case ingredients are contaminated.

It comes just days after manufacturers Greencore Group and Samworth Brothers Manton Wood recalled a variety of sandwiches, wraps, and salads sold in major UK supermarkets because of a potential link to an E.coli outbreak that left people across the UK in hospital.

The sandwich and salad maker Greencore Group, which supplies stores such as Asda and Sainsbury's has recalled a number of products. Credit: ITV News

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

Samworth Brothers Manton Wood is recalling various Tesco and One Stop sandwiches and wraps.

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.

As of June 11, the number of cases associated with the Stec outbreak was 211, an increase of 98 since a previous update from UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on June 6. Based on information from 160 cases to date, 42% were admitted to hospital.

Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy at Which? said the outbreak shows how “we can never afford to be complacent with our food safety and food standards”.

“With so many people so severely affected, it’s right that products are being withdrawn on a precautionary basis. Supermarkets and the FSA must do everything they can to make people aware of potentially affected products and ensure that they do not eat them.

“The FSA and UK Health Security Agency must get to the bottom of how this widespread outbreak has happened and take all action necessary to prevent any more people from becoming ill.”

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 4 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.

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

Some 147 cases were confirmed in England, with 27 in Wales, 35 in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland who believe they fell ill in England.

What are the symptoms?

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).

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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.”

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.”