Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons recall sandwiches after E.coli linked to salad leaves

Affected products from Greencore have been pulled from shelves and were sold at Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Boots, Co-Op, Amazon and Aldi
Affected products from Greencore have been pulled from shelves and were sold at Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Boots, Co-Op, Amazon and Aldi - Justin Kase/Alamy Stock Photo

Some sandwiches sold at major supermarkets have been recalled as it emerged an E.coli outbreak is linked to salad leaves.

Greencore, which makes ready-to-eat food sold by retailers including Asda and Sainsbury’s, has recalled 45 products as a result of the outbreak.

No bacteria has been found in the products directly but the company is recalling the products as a precaution “because of possible contamination with E.coli”.

Products subject to the precautionary recall include everything from vegetarian wraps and a BLT to gluten-free chicken salad sandwiches and a chicken, bacon and avocado focaccia.

A joint investigation between public health and food standards officials identified that at least 211 people had been infected with Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC). Cases have been seen in all nations within the UK and around 42 per cent of cases are admitted to hospital, according to data.

Last week there was widespread concern when the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued advice over “a nationally distributed food item or multiple food items” contaminated with STEC.

Symptoms of STEC infection include severe diarrhoea (including bloody diarrhoea), abdominal pain, and sometimes haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure and can be fatal.

Affected products from Greencore have been pulled from shelves and were sold at Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Boots, Co-Op, Amazon and Aldi.

Investigations identified ready meals, and a specific type of salad leaf, as being eaten by many of the people who contracted STEC. It is understood the source of the contamination came from a supplier of the salad leaves and was not a result of meal production.

Products from other vendors are also thought to be affected by the E.coli contamination. How the products were contaminated originally remains unknown.

Trish Mannes, Incident Director at UKHSA, said: “If you are unwell, have eaten salad leaves recently and are concerned about any symptoms, follow NHS.uk guidance on when to seek help and the steps you can take to avoid further spread to family and friends.”

Symptoms

Experts advise people with symptoms to wash their hands with soap regularly to stop them passing it on to others. People should also now prepare food for others while unwell and should avoid visiting people in hospitals or care homes.

“Do not return to work, school or nursery until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped,” Dr Mannes added.

Darren Whitby, Head of Incidents at the FSA said: “Sandwich manufacturers are taking a precautionary measure to recall various sandwiches, wraps, subs and rolls 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). The full list of products can be found in the product recall information notice (PRIN).

“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, wraps, subs and rolls.

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

“The symptoms of STEC infection can vary from no symptoms to diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea, and haemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure and can be fatal. We therefore advise any consumers who have any of these products not to eat them.

“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.”

Another sandwich manufacturer, Leicestershire-based Samworth Brothers Manton Wood, has also recalled 15 of its pre-made wraps and sandwiches sold at Tesco and One Stop. E.coli has not been detected in the products but they are being recalled as a precaution.

A Greencore spokesperson said: “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.”

The Irish company made more than £1.25billion in revenue last year from its food-to-go products, which includes wraps, sandwiches and salads, making up two-thirds of the entire company’s income.

Sandwiches are made at eight specialist sites owned by Greencore across the UK and packaged in the individual wrapping of various retailers.