LAWYERS have been instructed to probe a salmonella outbreak linked to pork scratchings made at a Westhoughton factory.

Consumers claim they were left suffering diarrhoea, vomiting and fever after eating the pub snack, produced at the Tayto's site in Great Bank Road.

Food Standards Agency (FSA) chiefs and Public Health England supported an emergency recall of Mr Porky products last month.

One hundred and seventy-nine people were said to have reported food poisoning symptoms, traced to pork scratchings.

Self-employed joiner Sebastian Thornton, 37, says he ate Mr Porky pork scratchings as part of a Thai dish and shortly afterwards he fell ill with a fever, diarrhoea, sweats, and lethargy. He also experienced shakes and was passing blood.

Mr Thornton has told lawyers how he was hospitalised for three days as a result of his illness but continued to suffer from the after-effects for six weeks.

Sebastian said: “By the time I heard about the recall, I had already eaten the pork scratchings. Within a few days, I felt awful.

“I ended up having to go into hospital and after I was discharged I was told I had salmonella infantis. It was a huge shock. The impact of my illness lasted for around six weeks, so I wasn’t able to work during that time.

“It’s really worrying to think that so many other people have also been struck down with symptoms of salmonella.

"I feel it’s important that an investigation takes place to try and prevent this from happening to others in the future.”

Jatinder Paul, a senior associate solicitor and a specialist public health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We’re extremely concerned to hear of the symptoms our clients have suffered after consuming pork scratchings.

“Salmonella is a very serious bacterial infection which can often lead to ongoing and long-lasting health problems. Sadly, through our work, we’re all too familiar with the long-term impact of the condition, and in some cases it can even result in lasting injuries or even death.

“We’re aware of a large number of individuals who say they have been affected by this outbreak and we would be interested in speaking to anyone who may have been impacted by this incident who would be able to assist with our investigations.

“While we welcome the product recall, we’re now investigating further in order to provide our clients with the answers they deserve.

A spokesman for the Tayto Group said at the time: “The safety of our products is of the utmost importance, which is why we have taken the decision to initiate a precautionary recall for some products.

"We are working closely with the local environmental health team and the FSA at this time.”