What we know about UK's E.coli outbreak as supermarket sandwiches recalled

Side & back view graphics on Greencore sandwich manufacturing business 'food to go' supply chain delivery van & driver on motorway in Essex England UK
The Greencore products being recalled include sandwiches, wraps and salads. (PA) (Justin Kase z12z)

A WH Smith supplier has become the third company to recall food products because of a potential link to an E.coli outbreak that left dozens of people in hospital.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has confirmed that manufacturer THIS! has requested that customers return its vegan chicken and bacon wraps, which are only available at WH Smith. The recall notice applies to any of the products purchased up to Tuesday 18 June. Customers are advised not to eat them.

Greencore Group was the first company to issue a product recall on 14 June, closely followed by Samworth Brothers Manton Wood. Officials said the decisions were a “precautionary measure” and came after 211 cases linked to the outbreak were confirmed, dozens of which were admitted to 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 also recalling various Tesco and One Stop sandwiches and wraps.

A full list of the products recalled can be found at the bottom of this article.

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 shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC), can make people very ill.

People infected with STEC can suffer diarrhoea, and about 50% of cases have bloody diarrhoea. Other symptoms include stomach cramps and fever.

Earlier this month, UKHSA confirmed at least 113 confirmed STEC cases of which 37 people had been admitted to hospital following the outbreak. As of 11 June, the number of cases had risen to 211. Based on information from 160 cases to date, 42% were admitted to hospital, the UKHSA said.

Of the total, some 147 patients are located in England, 27 in Wales, 35 in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland – although it is believed they were infected while in England.

UKHSA said confirmed cases associated with this outbreak are expected to rise as further samples undergo whole genome sequencing. The UKHSA said genome sequencing of samples indicated most of these cases are part of a single outbreak.

The FSA advises any consumers who have any of the products being recalled not to eat them.

Stec is usually transmitted by eating contaminated food, but can also be spread by close contact with an infected person, or direct contact with an infected animal or its environment.

Darren Whitby, head of incidents at the Food Standards Agency, told the BBC: “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 and wraps."

What we don't know

Whitby described the recall as a "precautionary measure".

The UKHSA had previously said there was no evidence linking the outbreak to open farms, drinking water or swimming in contaminated seas, lakes or rivers. While the UKHSA has provided a country-by-country breakdown of cases, we don't know which regions have been worst affected.

We also don't know how bad the outbreak will be. Bacteriologist Prof Nicola Holden said earlier this month: "There is a dependency on the type of source: the epidemiological curves look different for a perishable product compared to something long-lasting, which may be more prolonged."

Some of the products affected.
Some of the products recalled.

Use by all dates up to and including 18 June 2024

WH Smith THIS! Isn't Chicken and Bacon Wrap

Use by all dates up to and including 17 June 2024

Co-op Chicken & Bacon Caesar Wrap

Use by all dates up to and including 16 June 2024

Aldi Chicken Fajita Triple Wrap

Amazon BLT Sandwich

by Amazon Chicken Salad Sandwich

by Amazon Ploughman’s Sandwich

by Amazon Chicken & Bacon Layered Salad

by Amazon Prawn Layered Salad

Asda BLT (Sandwich)

Boots BBQ Chicken wrap

Boots BLT (Sandwich)

Boots Cheddar Cheese Ploughman’s (Sandwich)

Boots Chicken & Bacon Caesar Wrap

Boots Chicken Salad (Sandwich)

Boots Chicken Triple (Sandwich)

Boots Delicious Ham & Cheese Ploughman’s (Sandwich)

Boots Halloumi & Greek Style Salad wrap

Boots Ham & Egg Club (Sandwich)

Boots Mixed Triple (Sandwich)

Boots Southern Fried Chicken Wrap

Boots Spicy Bean & Cheese Wrap

Boots Vegan No Chicken Salad (Sandwich)

Boots Vegan No Duck & Hoisin Wrap

Boots Veggie Triple (Sandwich)

Co-op Vegan Gro Onion Bhaji (Sandwich)

Co-op Mexican Style Bean & Cheese Wrap

Co-op Ham, Cheese & Pickle (Sandwich)

Co-op Ham & Cheese Wrap

Co-op Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato (Sandwich)

Morrisons Chicken Salad (Sandwich)

Morrisons Chicken Salad PFS (Sandwich)

Morrisons Gluten Free Chicken Salad (Sandwich)

Morrisons Gluten Free Sandwich Platter

Sainsbury’s Peri Peri Chicken Wrap

Sainsbury’s BBQ Pulled Pork & Red Leicester (Sandwich)

Sainsbury’s Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Focaccia (Sandwich)

Sainsbury’s Greek Style Wrap

Sainsbury’s Jerk Halloumi Wrap

Use by all dates up to and including 15 June 2024

Asda Smoky Beans and Cheddar Cheese Wrap

Asda Chicken Salad (Sandwich)

Asda Vegan No Chick'n Caesar Wrap

Asda Chicken & Bacon Club (Sandwich)

Asda Brie, Bacon and Chilli Chutney (Sandwich)

Asda Tuna Crunch Sub Roll

Asda Southern Fried Chicken Wrap

Asda Southern Fried Chicken Triple Wrap