Lidl has said that the beef burgers believed to be behind a new E coli outbreak in France have never been sold in Ireland.

The retailer said that no other product from the supplier SEB, Sait-Dizier is sold in their Irish stores.

Lidl Ireland said its fresh and frozen beef burgers, sold under the Moordale brand, are 100% Irish.

Five children are seriously ill in hospital in Lille after eating burgers infected with a strain of E coli.

Lidl in France withdrew boxes of the frozen beef burgers, which were produced in France and believed to be behind the French infections.

French health officials said the bacteria does not appear to be related to the lethal strain of E coli that has killed 37 people and made 3,000 ill, most of them in northern Germany.

Yesterday six children, aged between 20 months and eight years and from different towns in the Pas de Calais region, were taken to hospital after suffering bouts of bloody diarrhoea.

One was released, but five are in a 'serious condition'.

Three are being treated with hemodialysis, a method of removing waste products from the blood in the case of kidney failure.

French health minister Xavier Bertrand said the burgers would have to be examined and stricter controls would be enforced.

The boxes were sold under the brand 'Steaks Country' and had expiry dates of 10, 11 and 12 May, officials said.