An outbreak of E. coli has been in the spotlight recently as more than 200 people have become unwell and now, the cases have been linked to one vegetable.

Three companies have recalled products such as sandwiches and wraps from supermarket shelves as a precaution in recent weeks.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) told Sky News that while it is “too early to determine” how some lettuce became contaminated, it is “confident” that the vegetable is the source.

How can lettuce get contaminated with E. coli?

The lettuce could have been contaminated with E. coli in a few ways.

It's thought that contmainated lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreakIt's thought that contmainated lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak (Image: Canva)

Sky News reports that, according to Professor Jim Monaghan (professor of crop science at Harper Adams University in Shropshire), E. coli "essentially wants to be inside the guts of warm-blooded animals".

However, in between 10-15% of dairy herds, pathogenic strains can be found so a minority of manure is contaminated with E. coli.

In direct contamination, the contaminated manure can find its way onto lettuce leaves as it grows.

The bacteria could get into the soil or water and get onto the lettuce, in indirect contamination cases.

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It’s unclear whether the affected lettuce came from the UK or was imported.

Sky News reported the latest number of E. coli cases on Tuesday, June 18.

It said that 211 cases had been confirmed as of Tuesday, June 11.

At least 67 people needed to have treatment in hospital.