A person in Scotland has died following an outbreak of E. coli that has so far infected at least 30 people across the UK.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed dozens of cases of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (Stec) have been recorded across England and Scotland since late July in people aged seven to 81.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced a precautionary recall of four products from cheesemaker Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese on Christmas Eve because of possible E.coli contamination and added a fifth product on December 27.
Health chiefs warned that the cheeses may have been included in Christmas hampers or given as gifts over the festive period.
Mrs Kirkham’s Smoked Lancashire, Mature Lancashire, Tasty Lancashire, and Mild and Creamy Lancashire – all use by dates of all batches purchased since October 1 2023 – are among the affected cheeses.
Waitrose has also issued a recall on Waitrose & Partners No 1 Farmhouse Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese (200g) as a “precaution”.
The UKHSA said investigations are continuing into any common links between cases, including links to the recalled cheeses.
It said: “One death has been associated with this outbreak.
“Epidemiological and food chain investigations have identified links between some of the identified cases and a number of unpasteurised cheeses produced by a business in England.”
Anyone who has bought the cheese should ensure they do not eat it and keep it away from other foods.
Symptoms of E.coli include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and occasionally fever.
The NHS Inform website states that people usually notice symptoms three to four days after they have been infected, but symptoms can start any time between one and 14 days afterwards and can last up to two weeks.
Anyone with symptoms should not prepare food for others until 48 hours after they stop and should avoid visiting people in hospitals and care homes.
Products can be taken back to the retailer for a full refund, the FSA said.
The UKHSA, FSA, Public Health Scotland (PHS) and Food Standards Scotland are working together with other partner agencies to investigate the outbreak.
A PHS spokesperson said: “PHS can confirm there has been one death associated with E. coli O145 in Scotland.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation in Scotland and are working with UKHSA, who are investigating at a UK-wide level.”
Tina Potter, head of incidents at the FSA, said: “We are aware that this recalled product may be popular over the festive period, especially as it has been sold as part of a Christmas gift hamper, and so we are urging consumers to check whether they have bought or been gifted this product.
“Due to this outbreak of E.coli O145, we are urging all consumers to ensure they follow the advice in the product recall notices, which details all of the products which may pose a risk.”
More to follow.
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