Two more hospital patients have died in England following a listeria outbreak linked to pre-packed sandwiches, health officials revealed today.
It brings the total number of confirmed deaths to five, and the number of confirmed cases to nine, Public Health England have announced.
The outbreak has been linked to sandwiches and salads from supplier, The Good Food Chain, which supplies 43 of the 135 NHS trusts in the UK.
Hospitals were warned about the sandwiches last month, which were pulled from plates on May 25, but a public announcement was not made until last Friday, June 7.
Health bosses have now been accused of repeatedly ignoring warnings over the deadly risks of contaminated sandwiches.
Officials have been 'evasive' and 'trying to play the outbreak down' after failing to warn people of the dangers posed by the bacteria, victims have claimed.
PHE said that one of the patients confirmed today as linked to the outbreak of the deadly foodborne bacteria had already died.
Last week PHE first revealed the outbreak and said six patients had been infected. Three died, two at Manchester University Hospital and a third at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool.
Five hospital patients have now died after a listeria outbreak linked to pre-packed sandwiches by The Good Food Chain (pictured), which is considering suing the supplier who was the source of the infection
It is unclear whether the two deaths announced today were at the same hospitals.
Tanya Marston, who was infected in William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, says bosses have tried to play the outbreak down
Listeriosis has a 70-day incubation period, meaning infected patients could have unaware of the situation.
PHE said today that 'evidence suggests' that all the infected patients ate the affected products before they were withdrawn on May 25, 2019.
Tanya Marston needed strong antibiotics and feared she would die after eating an infected sandwich in hospital in Ashford, Kent.
She told the Mail On Sunday: 'It looks like health officials have tried to play this outbreak down.
'If they are being evasive, that makes me a bit angry.'
A series of documents expose how scientists and health officials have been warning about the dangers of contaminated sandwiches for more than a decade.
The Good Food Chain has now voluntarily ceased production while the investigation continues.
Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was one of the two hospital trusts affected
This business was supplied with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which subsequently produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria.
The Good Food Chain is considering suing North Country Cooked Meats, which is based in Salford,
Director Martyn Corfield, 50, said: ‘My sincere thoughts are with the families affected. I feel for them because I have been through it, I’ve been bereaved.
'But I’m very angry too because we are a victim as much as anyone else.’
Dr Nick Phin, Public Health England, said: 'PHE is working very closely with the Food Standards Agency, NHS England and Improvement, as well as partner organisations in Scotland and Wales, to investigate this outbreak.
Meat was produced by North Country Cooked Meats, based in Salford, Greater Manchester