Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2013

UK E.coli outbreak linked to watercress, Sainsburys issues product recall

An outbreak of a strain of E.coli, VTEC O157 Phage type 2 VT2, that has sickened 18 people in England, Wales and Scotland, has been linked to Sainsbury’s Watercress, according to Public Health England.



As of 10 September 2013, thirteen people from all regions in England have become unwell with the same strain of E.coli bacteria. There are also 4 cases in Wales and 1 in Scotland.

Based on interviews with patients, it was revealed that most of the people who were unwell reported buying watercress at Sainsburys.

As a precautionary measure Sainsburys have issued a product withdrawal for its bagged watercress and other salads that contain watercress.

The affected products include:

  • by Sainsbury’s Watercress Leaves, 75g
  • by Sainsbury’s Watercress, Spinach and Rocket salad, 100g
  • by Sainsbury’s Watercress, Spinach and Rocket, 170g
  • by Sainsbury’s Watercress twin pack, 2 x 35g
  • So Organic Watercress, 75g
  • So Organic Watercress, Spinach and Rocket, 100g
  • ‘Use by’ dates: all date codes

No other Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd products are known to be affected.

Dr Dilys Morgan, Head of the gastrointestinal, emerging and zoonotic diseases department said:

VTEC infections can be very serious. Although all ages are affected, this outbreak is mainly affecting older people. Since children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable for the complications of VTEC infections, it is important that we took action as soon as possible.

We have a robust surveillance system in place for VTEC and this helped us identify that watercress was the most probable food item which was causing the illness. We then followed this up with detailed food questionnaires and this confirmed that most cases had eaten it.

The Food Standards Agency immediately contacted the retailer with the details of the outbreak and they promptly took action to withdraw the product.

Vero cytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) are a group of gastrointestinal pathogens which cause illness in people. Symptoms of this disease can range from mild gastroenteritis to severe bloody diarrhea. The most serious complications can lead to blood poisoning and kidney failure.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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