Morrisons could yet face criminal charges over an

E.coli outbreak linked to one of its stores in Scotland, which left a 66-year-old woman dead and eight

others ill.

The retailer is waiting on the results of a police report into the matter for the Procurator Fiscal, Scotland's equivalent to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will determine whether any charges should be brought and against whom.

Cold cooked deli meat from Morrisons' Falside store in Paisley remains the only common link between all nine confirmed cases.

Strathclyde Police and Renfrewshire Council's environmental health officers are still investigating the outbreak.

In a separate investigation to discover the source of the outbreak, the NHS Outbreak Control Team has concluded it was not possible to pinpoint the exact cause, although its investigations are continuing.

"Because Margaret Rowan has died, the Fiscal will have a death investigation," said a spokeswoman for the Procurator Fiscal. "The first thing to consider is whether there are any grounds for criminal proceedings.

"We will consider what is the next appropriate stage when the police submit their report."

Dr Syed Ahmed, chairman of the Outbreak Control Team said: "Possible causes of the outbreak could include either contamination of meat at the store by a food handler, or contamination of a single meat product before it was delivered to the store."

David Young, regulatory partner at Eversheds law firm, said that in cases of food poisoning, a company could be prosecuted for providing food unfit for consumption - or numerous other breaches of food hygiene and food safety laws.

"It would be extremely unlikely that the investigation team will not find a problem of some kind within the supply chain in this case," he added.

"And given the profile and the seriousness of what has happened, I would expect to see a prosecution of some kind."

In another case involving E.coli, butcher William Tudor, of Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, is awaiting sentence for causing an outbreak in September 2005.

A total of 158 people, mostly schoolchildren, became ill in the E.coli food poisoning outbreak in Wales, in which five-year-old Mason Jones died.

Tudor has pleaded guilty to placing unsafe food on the market and is due to be sentenced next week.

If Morrisons did face criminal charges, it would be the second case involving a large food company in little more than a year.

Cadbury was fined £1m after pleading guilty to offences related to the contamination of chocolate products with salmonella in 2006.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing 16 people who claim they were affected by the contaminated Cadbury chocolate, is still pursuing civil cases against the company on their behalf.

Sallie Booth, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, said she was also in the early stages of legal action against Morrisons for clients who claim they had contracted E.coli poisoning from a bagged salad in June.