Seven children are suing the Government and other organisations after they
were infected by the food poisoning bug which has now claimed the lives of
six pensioners in Scotland.
Their families say the Government failed to warn the public and advise health authorities and NHS trusts about the dangers of E-coli 0157, the bacterium responsible for the food poisoning.
It emerged yesterday that during this summer, seven children, all under the age of eight, contracted the bug in unrelated cases in England. They were yesterday granted legal aid to sue the Department of Health and Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food. Three of them will also be suing the fast food chain McDonald's and their suppliers McKey foods Ltd.
Gary Thomas claimed his two daughters picked up the bacteria after eating a McDonald's meal in Liverpool last August. In a separate case, a three-year-old fell ill after a meal at a McDonald's in Gateshead.
Lucy Kennedy of Howe & Co, which is representing all the families, said a report by the Advisory Committee on Microbiological Safety of Food published in 1995 warned against E-coli 0157. The report recommended the labelling of beef products with information about the bacterium and said that hygiene methods in abattoirs needed to be reviewed.
The Department of Health said health professionals received advice from the royal colleges and from the Public Health Laboratory Service.
McDonald's said last night: "We take any claims of this nature very seriously and will investigate fully as soon as details have been advised to us by the lawyers involved."