Cheesemaker drops court case as food body publishes report

Errington Cheese has laid off 12 members of staff and mothballed the company since its products were recalled
Errington Cheese has laid off 12 members of staff and mothballed the company since its products were recalled
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Food Standards Scotland has published a damning report into the processes of artisan cheesemaker Errington Cheese, saying that the company’s manufacturing procedures do not effectively prevent the growth of E.Coli bacteria, which killed a toddler and left 20 other people ill in an outbreak of the bug earlier this year.

The food body said that it was hitting back at claims by Lanark-based Errington that its products had shown no traces of the bacteria in testing and released details of its tests which showed presence of E. coli O157 and for another (non-O157) strain of E. coli.

Yesterday, the cheesemaker, which had its products banned from sale in September, said it will drop legal proceedings against Food Standards Scotland, suggesting that it could come to an agreement with FSS which could potentially lead to the company producing cheese again.

But Geoff Ogle, chief executive of FSS said: “Given the understandable level of interest and press coverage regarding the E. coli O157 outbreak linked to products from Errington Cheese Ltd, FSS has taken the decision that it is in the public interest to publish the information that we have used to inform our decision-making with regards to this incident.

“This outbreak led to one fatality and 11 people being hospitalised. This was a major food incident where there was a significant risk to public health, with a tragic outcome.”

Errington, which had launched a judicial review against food body FSS, said yesterday that the organisation had presented a “proposal”, which it claims recognised that the destruction of its stock earlier this year following the outbreak in July was “unwarranted and unnecessary”. It also said FSS had agreed to pay the legal costs of the review.

However FSS said that Errington’s products would “continue to be withheld from the market” and are “regarded as a risk to health”.

The company said yesterday: “We are pleased to report that it has now been recognised that the destruction of our cheese was unwarranted and unnecessary and that FSS has finally started to share the evidence which they possess with us.

“Today FSS put a proposal to us asking us to drop our judicial review in return for them agreeing to pay the legal costs of this particular action. In light of the recent change in stance by FSS we have agreed to accept this proposal. Consequently, this particular judicial review will now not proceed.”