Between 12 July and 29 September 2013, 29 individuals in five Canadian provinces became ill following infection with the same strain of Escherichia coli O157:H7 as defined by molecular typing results. Five case patients were hospitalized, and one died.
Twenty-six case patients (90%) reported eating Gouda cheese originating from a dairy plant in British Columbia. All of the 22 case patients with sufficient product details available reported consuming Gouda cheese made with raw milk; this cheese had been produced between March and July 2013 and was aged for a minimum of 60 days. The outbreak strain was isolated from the implicated Gouda cheese, including one core sample obtained from an intact cheese wheel 83 days after production.
The findings indicate that raw milk was the primary source of the E. coli O157:H7, which persisted through production and the minimum 60-day aging period. This outbreak is the third caused by E. coli O157:H7 traced to Gouda cheese made with raw milk in North America.
These findings provide further evidence that a 60-day ripening period cannot ensure die-off of pathogens that might be present in raw milk Gouda cheese after production and have triggered an evaluation of processing conditions, physicochemical parameters, and options to mitigate the risk of E. coli O157:H7 infection associated with raw milk Gouda cheese produced in Canada.
Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections linked to aged raw milk gouda cheese, Canada, 2013
Andrea Currie, Eleni Galanis, Pedro Chacon, Regan Murray, Lynn Wilcott, Paul Kirkby, Lance Honish, Kristyn Franklin, Jeff Farber, Rob Parker, Sion Shyng, Davendra Sharma, Lorelee Tschetter, Linda Hoang, Linda Chui, Ana Pacagnella, Julie Wong, Jane Pritchard, Ashley Kerr, Marsha Taylor, Victor Mah, and James Flint
Journal of Food Protection, vol. 81, No. 2, 2018, pg. 325-331