Woman who believes she contracted hepatitis A from Sainsbury’s dates to pursue legal action

Jillian Dennell Dates

Jillian Dennell was hospitalised with hepatitis A in March last year after eating Sainsbury's Medjool Dates. - Credit: Pixabay/Leigh Day

A Potters Bar woman is pursuing legal action against Sainsbury’s after contracting hepatitis A, which she believes is linked to a contaminated batch of Medjool dates.

Jillian Dennell purchased four 200g boxes of Taste the Difference Medjool Dates between January 4 and February 25 last year, with these dates recalled by the retailer in April due to concerns they had been contaminated with the virus, while an alert was issued by the Food Standards Agency.

The 64-year-old began to feel ill in late February, and by the start of March she was experiencing severe fatigue, weakness and chest pain.

Her symptoms worsened, and on March 6, she was rushed to Barnet Hospital, where she was diagnosed with hepatitis A and remained for five days before being able to return home.

Sainsbury's Medjool Dates

Sainsbury's recalled their Medjool Dates in April over fears they had been contaminated. - Credit: Sainsbury's

She only returned to full health in August, and she believes the Medjool dates caused her illness.

“I am convinced that the terrible bout of hepatitis A that I suffered was caused by the Sainsbury’s dates,” she said.

“The illness caused me immense suffering and affected my wider family as I am full-time carer to my mother who has dementia. We had to put in place other arrangements for her care while I was ill for so many months.

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“Not only that but I have had to bring forward my retirement date because I just wasn’t well enough to continue working until my planned retirement in March 2022 when I will be 65.”

Jillian is being represented by Leigh Day food safety solicitors Angela Bruno and Andrew Jackson.

Angela is determined to get her and other clients answers about the dates, saying: “Jillian’s story is very similar to the other clients who we represent.

“All four had eaten Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Medjool Dates that were later subject to a product recall and all were hospitalised and diagnosed as hepatitis A.

“Our clients are all deeply concerned that a dangerous virus such as hepatitis A could have been introduced into the food chain, especially via a luxury product sold by one of the UK’s biggest retailers.

“We are now helping our clients to get answers to how this could have happened, and accountability for the injuries and losses they have suffered as a result.”

In a short statement, Sainsbury’s said: “The safety of our products is our highest priority. We are working with the manufacturer to fully support the investigation into their experience.”