• Thursday, July 25, 2024

Business

Asda, Tesco face legal action over E. coli cases

The compensation claims involve a man from the South East and an 11-year-old girl from the North West.

FILE PHOTO: A customer looks at some goods at the Asda supermarket, in Aylesbury, England. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

LAWYERS representing two people who fell ill during an E. coli outbreak in the UK have initiated legal proceedings against two major supermarkets, the BBC reported.

Law firm Fieldfisher announced last week that it had issued letters of claim for violation of the Consumer Protection Act regarding own-brand sandwiches purchased at Tesco and Asda.

The compensation claims involve a man from the South East and an 11-year-old girl from the North West.

UK Health Security Agency said last week it had identified two individuals in England, both of whom had underlying medical conditions, who died last month within 28 days of infection with the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC, strain of the bacteria.

One of those deaths was likely linked to their STEC infection it said, based on information available from clinicians.

According to reports, the outbreak is believed to have been caused by supermarket sandwiches containing salad leaves.

Most cases reported symptoms before 4 June, and the number of new cases is now declining, suggesting the outbreak may be over.

As a precaution, several food manufacturers have recalled some products.

According to the Food Standards Agency, lettuce is the likely source, based on test results.

Fieldfisher said that the claim against Asda involves a young girl who contracted E. coli after eating an own-brand chicken salad sandwich from the supermarket.

“The girl, aged 11, developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a serious condition affecting the kidneys, and has been on dialysis for three weeks,” the firm said.

“She was discharged home two days ago but might face permanent kidney damage. Her mother had bought three of the sandwiches as part of an online delivery.”

An Asda spokesman said that they had not yet received any letter from Fieldfisher regarding these claims, but added: “As soon as we do, we will review the details of the claim urgently.”

Harvinder Kaur, a director at Fieldfisher, informed the PA News agency on Friday (28) that a separate letter was sent to Tesco on behalf of a man from the South East. However, Tesco said that it has not yet received the letter

The man was also hospitalised with E. coli symptoms after consuming Tesco-branded sandwiches containing salad, according to the law firm.

“Fortunately, this client did not develop HUS and is now home, though he was seriously ill for a time,” Kaur was quoted as saying.

“Under the Act, food producers must ensure their products are safe to eat. If the food causes illness, it constitutes a breach of their duty, and those affected are entitled to claim compensation, particularly for potential ongoing medical care.”

She added that the man was a “regular shopper” at Tesco, frequently buying his lunch there due to its proximity to his workplace.

UKHSA first flagged a rise in STEC cases on June 6, and all the currently confirmed cases had symptom onset dates before June 4. Symptoms include severe and sometimes bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting and fever.

Several sandwich manufacturers have withdrawn or recalled various sandwiches, wraps, subs and rolls as a precaution after the Food Standards Agency narrowed down the likely source of the outbreak to a type of lettuce.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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