Urgent health warning after THIRD company recalls popular food item as E. coli outbreak leaves dozens hospitalised

Woman looking ill behind E. coli particles

E. coli 'much worse' in children and elderly, a top doctor warns as vegan chicken and bacon wraps recalled

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Adam Chapman

By Adam Chapman

Published: 17/06/2024

- 09:13
  • E. coli 'much worse' in children, elderly and immunocompromised
  • THIS! recalls its vegan chicken and bacon wrap over E. coli fears
  • It follows recalls of a variety of sandwiches, wraps and salads

A top doctor has warned that the illness caused by an outbreak of E.coli is “much worse” in young children, elderly people and those with underlying conditions in their immune system.

The urgent health warning comes as a third manufacturer pulls its products from shelves nationwide over fears of contamination.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said manufacturer THIS! has issued a recall notice to customers over its vegan chicken and bacon wrap, which is sold only at WH Smith.

The agency said anyone who purchased the product at any point up to and including Tuesday, June 18, should not eat it and instead return it to the store for a full refund.

E. coli outbreak in fridge

Doctor thinks people ate the contaminated foods potentially in half-term, or the weeks just around it

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It comes 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 products being 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.

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).”

As health authorities and manufacturers scramble to contain the outbreak, which has left at least 37 people hospitalised, Doctor Sarah Pitt, virologist at the University of Brighton, shed light on those most at-risk and provided tips to reduce the risk of infection.

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: it causes bloody diarrhoea in about 50 percent of cases.

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

Man holding toilet roll

Stec causes bloody diarrhoea in about 50 percent of cases

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Doctor Pitt told BBC Breakfast: “If you do have diarrhoea, just try not to pass it on to other people, be very careful about your own health, but also be mindful of the people around you because this illness is much worse in young children, elderly, people who have some underlying condition in their immune system as we often see with these infectious diseases.

“So just keep an eye out for people that you know, just to make sure they’re not getting any worse if they have diarrhoea as well.”

The doctor said that by looking at the dates, she thinks people ate the contaminated foods potentially in half-term, or the weeks just around it.

She added: “So people may have been out and about doing slightly different things, you know, slightly out of the ordinary.”

Doctor Pitt said to protect yourself, take recalled sandwiches back to the shop as per advice, wash pre-prepared bag salad, fruits and vegetables and cook them thoroughly, remember good hand hygiene, and if you have diarrhoea do not go to work or visit elderly relatives or people with young children.

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