The number of people infected with E.coli linked to supermarket sandwiches has leapt in Wales

Greencore Group is taking the precautionary step of recalling various sandwiches, wraps and salads because of possible contamination with E. coli, Food Standards Agency says.
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The number of E.coli cases in Wales linked to supermarket sandwiches has leapt by more than 50% in Wales. Some 29 people have now been diagnosed with the dangerous bacterial infection in Wales, up from 18 at the last update.

It is believed the recent outbreak is linked to pre-packaged sandwich products containing lettuce. As a result, thousands of supermarket sandwiches and wraps from stores such as Asda, Co-op, Tesco and Sainsbury's among others have been recalled as a precaution. You can find a list of the recalled items here.

Currently, the total number of cases across the UK has reached 256, up from 227 earlier this week. Of this, some 38% of people were admitted to hospital.

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The UK Health Security Agency, which provided the data, said that while the rate of cases has now slowed, they expect the figure to rise as NHS laboratories refer specimens to UKHSA for genomic sequencing which can link cases to this outbreak strain. All currently confirmed cases had symptom onset dates before 31 May.

As of June 20, there are 29 cases in Wales, 168 in England, 56 in Scotland and 3 in Northern Ireland (however evidence suggests that they acquired their infection in England).

Based on evidence to date, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have published precautionary product recall notices covering a range of products that are potentially contaminated with E. coli. The FSA, FSS and the devolved public health agencies are working together to produce epidemiological investigations, whole genome sequence analysis and food chain investigations are still ongoing to confirm the cause of this outbreak.

E.coli can cause severe bloody diarrhoea. It is often transmitted via consumption of contaminated food but can also be spread by close contact with an infected person, as well as direct contact with an infected animal or its environment.

The UKHSA advise that people feeling unwell should not prepare food for others while unwell and avoid visiting people in hospitals or care homes to avoid passing on the infection in these settings. People should not return to work, school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.

On the product recalls, Darren Whitby, Head of Incidents at the FSA said: "Several sandwich manufacturers have now taken precautionary action to withdraw and recall various sandwiches, wraps, subs and rolls, as food chain and epidemiological links have enabled us to narrow down a wide range of foods consumed to a small number of salad leaves that have been used in these in these products.

"This follows extensive investigations into the cause of an ongoing outbreak caused by shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) which is being carried out by the FSA, FSS and UKHSA, working closely with the relevant enforcing authorities across Local Authorities). A full list of products implicated in the product recalls can be found in the product recall notices (PRINs).

"This remains a complex investigation and we continue to work at pace with the relevant businesses and local authorities to ensure necessary steps are being taken to protect consumers.

"Although we are confident in the source of the outbreak being linked to a small number of salad leaves, which we identified early on through extensive food chain analysis, work continues to identify the root cause of the outbreak with the growers, suppliers and manufacturers so that actions can be taken to prevent a re-occurrence. We will remain vigilant until the root cause of the outbreak is confirmed and we are keeping an open mind about possible causes of the outbreak. Information is being gathered at pace and is under constant review to ensure we minimise any further risk to consumers."