UK meat processor linked to E. coli outbreak

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Escherichia coli Foodborne illness

The forcing of a UK cooked meat processor to withdraw its products
from the market serves as warning to industry that a company's
future lies in the hands of its plant food safety managers.

In addition to the damage to reputation, food contamination can lead to huge expenses due to product recalls, fines and loss of market share. This is the situation facing John Tudor and Son, which today was in a defensive mode, disputing claims by the Food Standards Agency that the firm's cooked meat products led to the infection of 56school children with E.coli 0157. The outbreak occurred in two dozen schools throughout south Wales. "There is no evidence yet that the outbreak is linked to us," company spokesman Calyn Williams told "We are waiting for the results of the health tests.We have no further comment to make." The UK's food safety regulator yesterday said John Tudor and Son has withdrawn all its cooked meat range due to the risk of contamination of E.coli 0157. The Wales-based company supplies cooked andfresh meats to schools and other public sector institutions, such as old age homes. E. coli O157 causes food poisoning and sometimes kidney failure when people eat undercooked meat. The FSA also said it was possible that contaminated products may still be on the shelves of some stores because it believed that John Tudor and Son also supplied outlets that sold direct toconsumers. The agency asked local authorities to ensure that all cooked meat products from the firm, delivered on or before 20 September, were removed from circulation. The BBC reported that three members of one family, two children and a mother, were in hospital due to E.coli infection. One of the children is on dialysis in the kidney unit of the BristolChildren's Hospital, after developing the complication hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which kills red blood cells and can cause kidney failure. European consumers have become increasing concerned about food safety, mainly due to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) scare in cattle beginning in the late 1980s, a foot and mouth diseaseoutbreak in 2001 and of avian flu in 2003. Consumer concerns have in turn led to tougher regulatory action and increased survelliance of safety in food processing plants. Earlier this month a Spanish cooked chicken processor owned by Nutreco was fined €600,000 by the country's food regulator for not providing enough information about the ingredients and productionof the cooked chicken during previous inspections by health officials. Grupo Sada was found to have poisoned 2,700 people who ate its chicken with salmonella. Nutreco is a multinational corporation based in the Netherlands. External links to companies or organisations mentioned in this story: Food Safety Authority

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