E.Coli-linked cheesemaker to recommence production

The artisan cheese manufacturer embroiled in a legal battle after officials claimed it was the source of an E.coli outbreak which killed a three year old girl has been told it can recommence production.

Errington is still embroiled in a legal battle over whether its cheese caused an E.coli outbreak last year.
Errington is still embroiled in a legal battle over whether its cheese caused an E.coli outbreak last year.

Errington Cheeses has been told by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) it can continue to produce its Lanark Blue cheese, following a new testing regime that requires the firm to test its raw milk five times a day for pathogens.

Previous stock seized by South Lanarkshire Council in February has now been destroyed, FSS said. Lanark-based Errington began making a new batch of cheese in January, but FSS has now said that it is satisfied that a “revised food safety management system” has been put in place.

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All products made by Errington Cheeses were recalled by the food standards body in September amid allegations that several of the 20 people struck down by an outbreak of the food poisoning bug in the summer had eaten the company’s Dunsyre Blue cheese.

A statement released by Food Standards Scotland said: “South Lanarkshire Council has confirmed to Food Standards Scotland that Errington Cheese Ltd now has the relevant controls in place to allow cheese production to start again under a revised food safety management system.

“The new season Lanark Blue cheese which has been placed on the market has been produced under this revised food safety management system.”

However, the legal battle over whether Errington should have been linked to the outbreak last summer continues as a court will next month test the evidence against the cheesemaker, which has claimed that independent testing do not show that its products were contaminated with the bug. If it rules in favour of the cheese manufacturer, owner Humphrey Errington has said he will seek compensation.

Mr Errington said: “They said there were ‘serious deficiencies’ in the way we produce the cheese. We have spoken to our local authority and have agreed to make tiny changes to the way we monitor it. It is produced in exactly the same way, we will just test the milk more regularly.”

However he added that he had been unable to recommence production of his Dunsyre Blue cheese after losing his milk supplier during the production hiatus.

“His cows are the right breed and his standards are very high in terms of hygiene, but after what happened, he says he is unable to supply us with milk any more, so at the moment, Dunsyre Blue is dead.”

Food writer Joanna Blythmann launched a crowdfunding campaign on JustGiving to pay for Errington Cheese’s legal costs in a bid to protect artisan food producers north of the border, raising more than £34,000.