Health Protection Scotland (HPS) are investigating 16 confirmed cases of the same strain of E. coli O157, which may be associated with eating blue cheese made from unpasteurised milk in Lanarkshire.
Of the 16 cases, 14 are in Scotland across seven NHS boards and two are in England.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said the company is carrying out a voluntary recall of suspected batches of the blue cheese and advised consumers who have bought the product and still have it in their fridge not to eat it.
Officials are advising anyone who purchased the cheese with batch codes C22 or D14 between mid-May and the end of July to not eat the product.
Dr Syed Ahmed, clinical director at HPS, said: “Members of the public who purchased Dunsyre Blue cheese and still have the product in their fridges should return it to the retailer where they purchased the product or dispose of it.”
The cases developed symptoms between 2 and 15 July.
The business’ founder, Humphrey Errington, told The Scotsman they were co-operating fully with HPS’ investigation but were shocked by the initial findings.
Mr Errington said: “We don’t know for sure yet if this happened because of our cheese. We’re completely baffled by their (HPS) conclusion it is connected to Dunsyre Blue. We haven’t seen the evidence yet, only circumstantial proof that some of the 16 had eaten the cheese at hotels we supply. We have sent more than 40 samples to testing centres and all tests so far have come back negative for E. coli O157.”
Mr Errington, whose daughter Selina Cairns now runs the company, was concerned of the impact the outbreak could have on the family-run firm.
What’s in a label?
Not much, and it’s been shown to be a lousy vehicle for food information, but in the absence of any food safety marketing, it’s one of the only tools available.
Dr. Richard Schabas, Medical Officer of Health for Hastings and Prince Edward (that’s in Ontario, Canada) is calling for federal food inspection changes following a local case of listeriosis this summer that was caused by blue cheese.
Public health officials say the Belleville resident, who went to hospital, became ill after eating some blue cheese purchased at Bibs Wholesale Meats.
Schabas says the store owner had changed the label on the cheese and purchasers did not recognize a recall of the original label, since the cheese wasn’t marked as “re-labelled.”
Schabas met with officials of the Canadian Food Inspection agency this week and is writing to the federal government calling for a requirement that re-labelled products be identified as such.
A Belleville, Ontario, resident is in hospital after eating some bad cheese from a local business.
Wayne Tucker, director of communicable disease control/tobacco control at the Hastings Prince Edward Counties Health Unit, said the person is ill with listeriosis following the consumption of blue cheese purchased from Bibs Wholesale Meats in July.
”There is a small quantity of this blue cheese product that may have been sold to others in the community prior to July 30. Anyone who purchased blue cheese from Bibs Wholesale Meats prior to July 30 is asked to return the cheese to Bibs Wholesale Meats or dispose of the product.” he said. “If anyone has consumed blue cheese purchased from Bibs Wholesale Meats prior to July 30 and is now ill, they should see their health care provider to rule out Listeriosis.”