The manufacturer of a hospital feed linked to an outbreak of blood poisoning in newborn babies has said it is “saddened” by what happened.

ITH Pharma is “co-operating fully” with an investigation launched by health officials into howits product may have become contaminated.

Three babies at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton were yesterday said to be progressing well after being treated for septicaemia caused by the bacteria bacillus cereus.

A total of 17 babies are still being treated for the infection at hospitals around the country and one infant has died.

It has emerged the feed had been sent to 22 different NHS and private hospitals.

The first baby to become infected at the Royal Sussex, who fell ill on Saturday, was given antibiotics and had a sample taken.

A second baby fell ill on the Sunday and the third on Monday.

Results on Tuesday showed all three were suffering from the same infection and the hospital reported an outbreak.

It is not yet known whether the infection will have an impact on the length of each baby’s hospital stay.

The hospital has not released any further information about the babies involved because of patient confidentiality.

Ryan Watkins, a consultant neonatologist at the hospital’s Trevor Mann unit, said: “The babies are recovering well and we anticipate no further cases, being confident that the problem has been identified.”

Public Health England (PHE) has “strongly linked” the cases with a batch of liquid made by ITC Pharma, called parenteral nutrition, which is fed through a drip.

It is supposed to deliver a variety of nutrients when a baby is unable to eat on its own.

PHE said investigations with the company have identified “an incident that might have caused the contamination”

and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed an investigation has been launched.

ITH Pharma’s managing director Karen Hamling said: “ITH Pharma is very saddened to hear about the death of a baby in hospital, and that others are ill with septicaemia.”

Bacillus cereus, a bacterium found in dust, soil and vegetation, produces very hardy spores which can grow and create a toxin which causes illness.

The contaminated batch of feed had a shelf life of just seven days and the useby date was June 2.