‘Ready to eat dairy item’ likely caused E.coli outbreak after 37 taken to hospital

The nationally distributed food item has left 113 people infected (Picture: Getty Images)

The food item which left more than 113 people infected with E.coli is likely to be a ‘ready to eat’ item which did not require any cooking.

At least 37 people have needed hospital treatment, with the UK Health Security agency saying they are most likely linked to a nationally distributed food item.

All the cases recorded in the outbreak involve Shiga toxin-producing E.coli O145 (Stec), with 81 cases in England, 18 in Wales, 13 in Scotland and one person in Northern Ireland who believes they acquired Stec in England.

A top scientist has said the mystery product is ‘very likely to be a ready-to-eat product possibly with dairy origin’.

High Pennington, Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, told Mail on Sunday: ‘We’ve had STEC outbreaks with food that is going to be cooked, the traditional kinds were meat products, mince and burgers and so on, and cooking kills the bug stone dead.

‘You’d have to expect if it was a food that’s going to be made safe by cooking, all the people who’ve fallen ill haven’t been cooking their food properly.’

Eating contaminated food, coming into contact with infected people and animals and swimming in ponds and stream with the strain can all lead to infection.

He added undercooked meat is the cause of the outbreak, saying: ‘It would be much more likely to be foods that are not going to be cooked before they are consumed.

All the cases recorded in the outbreak involve Shiga toxin-producing E.coli O145 (Stec) (Picture: Getty Images)

‘We’ve had outbreaks associated with the dairy products, for example.

‘Cheese is a classic, ice cream, we’ve had ice cream before. There’s a whole range, any dairy products, that are being processed.’

Those who contracted the infection suffer from severe and bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting and a fever.

The most severe cases can even lead to kidney failure.

Rarer symptoms include sudden bruising, pale skin, red urine, and weeing less frequently.

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