The manufacturer of a Loyd Grossman curry sauce that has left two people in Scotland seriously ill with botulism is examining whether the food became contaminated during a 300 mile journey.
By James Hall, Consumer Affairs Editor
Health officials recalled 47,000 jars of the television presenter’s korma sauce over the weekend after two members of the same family in Scotland fell ill.
Premier Foods, which makes the sauce as well as other brands including Hovis bread and Mr Kipling cakes, said that it is “working urgently with the authorities” to investigate the cause of the incident.
As well as looking into conditions at the Bury St Edmunds factory where the sauce was made, Premier said that it is examining “how the jar may have been transported and stored after leaving the factory”.
While Health Protection Scotland (HPS), the quango in charge of Scottish public health, has refused to give details of where in Scotland the affected family lives, it is understood that the jar of contaminated korma was bought in a branch of Tesco, Co-op or Morrisons close to their home.
A Premier spokesman said the company is investigating how the sauce was handled over the 300-plus mile journey between East Anglia and Scotland. Although botulism is caused by a food-borne virus that usually occurs in the canning or bottling process, the virus could also have entered the product as it sat in a warehouse or on a delivery lorry.
It is understood that the police are not involved in the investigation, suggesting that sabotage is not being examined as a cause for the outbreak.
Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by toxins that are produced by a potentially fatal bacteria that attacks the nervous system. The infection is not contagious, and symptoms of food-borne botulism typically begin between 12 and 36 hours after ingestion of contaminated food.
Symptoms include blurred visions, difficulty swallowing and difficulty speaking.
The Loyd Grossman recall involves 350g jars of korma sauce with a best before date of February 2013. The sauce has a batch code of 1218R 07:21, which can be found on the neck of the bottle.
The Food Standards Agency warned people not to consume jars of the sauce from the affected batch.
In a statement Premier Foods said that there is “no evidence” of further contamination beyond the affected batch.
It said: “The safety of consumers is of paramount importance to us. At this stage, we understand that the incident relates to a single jar of korma sauce. There is no evidence of any broader contamination, no further reports of illness have been notified to the authorities and we have had no consumer complaints of illness related to this product.
“We are working urgently with the authorities to investigate the cause of this incident, including how the jar may have been transported and stored after leaving the factory. While these investigations are underway, we have initiated a precautionary recall of the specific batch code in the interests of the safety of our consumers.”
Last month Premier Foods identified Loyd Grossman sauces as one of its eight “power brands” that it saw as having the best growth prospects in the future. Sales of Loyd Grossman sauces reached £45m last year.