Vitacress - watercress bed

Watercress sales at other retailers remain undiminished

Sainsbury’s watercress supplier Vitacress says it has not found any evidence of contamination after the retailer withdrew watercress products from its shelves due to a possible association with an outbreak of E. coli. O157 that has made 19 people ill.

Sainsbury’s undertook a precautionary recall of watercress and other mixed salad lines containing watercress supplied by Vitacress on 13 September.

Huw Griffiths, marketing director at the Hampshire-based company, said: “This voluntary measure was taken following a notification by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that a small number of people had fallen ill with a bacterial infection, and that one of the FSA’s lines of investigation is watercress bought from Sainsbury’s since 1 August.

“We have undertaken extensive tests but have to date found no indication of contamination. We have a rigorous product safety and quality system applied from seed to pack and have no evidence to suggest this has been compromised.”

Vitacress is continuing to work closely with local environmental health officers in their ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile, reporting of the product withdrawal does not appear to have pushed shoppers away from watercress in general. Tom Amery of The Watercress Company said: “From our point of view it has not affected sales at the rest of retailers. You might think there would be some fall out, but this does not seem to have happened.”