Bulmers has assured retailers its cider is safe to drink as its Hereford plant emerged as the possible source of a Legionnaire’s disease scare.

The company, which is part of Scottish & Newcastle and makes Strongbow, has become the focus of an investigation after tests on a cooling tower did not rule out the presence of the Legionella bug. Health officials are trying to trace the cause of the outbreak which has claimed two lives.

Bulmers’ PR manager, George Thomas, emphasised the test was inconclusive and that the disease could only be passed on by inhaling not drinking.