Salad probably caused 2019 E. coli outbreak in the UK

A recent study presumes that more than 30 people were part of an E. coli outbreak in the United Kingdom linked to salad in sandwiches in 2019. It was the first UK-wide foodborne outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O26.

Across the UK, 32 cases of STEC O26:H11 were identified from early October to mid-November. There was an association with eating pre-packed sandwiches purchased at outlets belonging to an unnamed national food chain franchise, found the study published in Epidemiology and Infection.

The common ingredient in the majority of sandwiches was a mixed salad of Apollo and iceberg lettuce and spinach leaves.

Initial outbreak
In October 2019, routine microbiological surveillance at the Scottish E. coli O157/STEC Reference Laboratory (SERL) identified the outbreak. Overall, 14 people were sick in Scotland, 16 in England and two in Wales. Ages ranged from 3 to 77 years old with a median of 27.

In total, 26 of 28 cases reported eating out at various food outlets within seven days of symptom onset. Of these, 17 purchased food from one outlet, three bought sandwiches from another site and three ate at a different outlet. The remaining three patients ate at three different food outlets.


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