Jill Greenfield explains legal impact of E. coli outbreak linked to Mrs Kirkham's cheese | Fieldfisher
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Jill Greenfield explains legal impact of E. coli outbreak linked to Mrs Kirkham's cheese

Before and just after Christmas, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recalled five cheeses from Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese because of concerns from The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) over potential E. coli contamination. This follows 30 confirmed cases of E. coli (Stec) in England and Scotland, involving people aged between 7 and 81.

Very sadly, one person in Scotland died from the infection and another 11 have been hospitalised. In all, there have been 30 cases of people falling ill apparently after eating artisanal cheese, eight confirmed as linked to unpasteurised cheese sold by Mrs Kirkham's.

Reports in the press suggest the latest outbreak involves a new variant of E. coli which the FSA says caused the increase in cases during December.

As ever, E. coli is a huge concern to anyone made ill by the bacterial infection and their families, not least since the aftereffects of E. coli can be devastating and continue long-term. Exposure to E. coli bacteria can be particularly serious to young children and the elderly and can be fatal.

My team and I, particularly Claire Glasgow and Harvinder Kaurcontinue to deal with the 2014 Huntley's Country Stores outbreak and previously supported victims of the 2009 Godstone farm outbreak in a group action. Several children exposed suffered renal failure and are at risk of serious health conditions in the future.

Unlinked to this latest outbreak, we also currently represent a young woman who remains in the ICU after contracting E. coli, possibly from food she bought at a Christmas market, although the source is yet unknown.

My experience of pursuing a claim on behalf of a young boy who suffered serious brain damage following a trip to an open farm has made me a campaigner for better safety in places like petting zoos where children unknowingly put themselves at risk after touching animals and being exposed to animal faeces. A multi-million-pound settlement was agreed to pay for this boy's ongoing care and adapted housing.

The symptoms of Stec infection vary from mild diarrhoea to severe abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhoea but where it can be particularly dangerous is in the around 15 per cent of cases where it leads to haemolytic uremic syndrome, a very serious condition that can result in kidney failure and death.

While anyone infected by E. coli will receive good emergency care from the NHS, the long-term impact generally means people need ongoing care and rehabilitation to cope with symptoms that may not be obvious from the start. Where children are involved, their parents often have to take prolonged leave from work, incurring additional expense.

A personal injury claim for health and safety failings can be brought against the owners of an establishment where the infection is identified. Such a claim can provide the funds to ensure those affected receive the best possible care and support.

If you or a family member may have been exposed to E. coli, feel free to contact any of my team to discuss in confidence a potential E. coli claim.

You can read some of our cases and hear from clients.

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