Health authorities have warned an E.coli outbreak in Scotland could have been caused by a specific blue cheese.
Health Protection Scotland (HPS) are investigating 16 confirmed cases of the same strain of E.coli O157, which could be associated with eating blue cheese made from unpasteurised milk.
Initial investigations from the public health body indicated that a number of those infected had consumed Dunsyre Blue at various locations across Scotland prior to becoming unwell.
The cases developed between 2 and 15 July. Symptoms associated with E.coli O157 can include stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and occasionally fever.
HPS has been working with Foods Standards Scotland (FSS), NHS boards and local authority environmental health teams to probe and manage the outbreak.
Errington Cheese - the Lanark-based producers of Dunsyre Blue - are carrying out a voluntary recall of the two suspected batches.
The business’ founder, Humphrey Errington, said 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 0157.”
Dr Syed Ahmed, Clinical Director at HPS, said: “The majority of cases have consumed Dunsyre Blue while eating out, but members of the public who purchased Dunsyre Blue cheese between 18 May and 29 July, and still have the product in their fridges, should return it to the retailer where they purchased the product or dispose of it.
“Anyone developing symptoms, or who is concerned about their symptoms, should contact their GP or telephone NHS 24 on 111 for advice.
“It is important to maintain good hand and food hygiene practices at all times as this reduces the risk of passing the infection to others.”
The products can be identified by their batch codes (C22, D14) and should not be consumed.
FSS advises that vulnerable groups including pregnant women, children and the elderly should not consume unpasteurised milk and dairy products such as cheese made from unpasteurised milk due to the risk of food poisoning.