There have been five confirmed cases of E-coli poisoning and four more 'probable' cases in Greater Manchester recently, and whilst no source of infection has been identified the only apparent link is the Co-op Superstore.

Five adults and four children ate food bought from the shop on London Road, Hazel Grove, three of the nine are in hospital and the other six, including two children, are ill at home after the outbreak.

Stockport Health Authority said five cases were confirmed and the other four were 'probable'. They include three adults and two children from the same family, two children from another family and two unrelated adults.

To date no source of the E-coli infection has been positively identified. However, the only apparent link between the individuals and families concerned is that they purchased food from the delicatessen counter during a short period in June.

'The Co-op Superstore has co-operated fully with all investigations and their decision to re-call food sold from the delicatessen counter between 1 June and 16 June and has been taken as a precautionary measure.'

United Norwest Co-op issued a statement saying the deli was among a number of possible sources for the infection being investigated by environmental health officials. It stated: 'As a responsible retailer, the Co-op has issued the product recall notice as part of a prudent approach to the matter,' it added.

Products recalled include bacon, cold meats, pies, pates and salads. A freephone helpline has been set up on 0800 328 378 for anybody requiring additional information.

More about E.coli

E. coli is the abbreviated name of the bacterium in the Family Enterobacteriaceae named Escherichia (Genus) coli (Species). The presence of E. coli and other kinds of bacteria within the intestines is necessary for humans to develop and operate properly, and to remain healthy - E. coli, along with other species of bacteria, provide many necessary vitamins for example. The bacteria make the vitamins, which are then absorbed. E. coli in our intestines provides the main source of Vitamin K and B-complex vitamins.

The fetus of any animal is completely sterile. Immediately after birth however, the newborn acquires all kinds of different bacteria which live symbiotically with the newborn and throughout the individual's life. From birth, we are never without bacteria, however, the helpful bacteria like these are located "only" in regions of our body directly exposed to the environment, e.g., our intestines, upper and lower respiratory tract, etc... and never within our bloodstream or the tissues inside our body. When such bacteria enter tissues or bloodstream - via infected food for instance, E-coli poisoning occurs.