Food watchdog issues new cheese ban amid E.coli outbreak

A nationwide alert has been issued over Scottish cheese found to contain E.coli.
A nationwide alert has been issued over Scottish cheese found to contain E.coli.
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All cheeses made by a Scottish producer linked to an E.coli outbreak where a child died are to be withdrawn by officials after the food safety watchdog discovered the deadly bug within a number of products.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) issued an alert to all Scottish councils calling for all Errington Cheese products to be removed from the shelves as they could pose a risk to public health.

The outbreak is being linked to another outbreak in Angus where a playgroup has been temporarily shut down due to a small number of cases.

The South Lanarkshire-based firm has already been forced to take two of cheeses off the market following a wave of e.coli cases linked to a batch of Dunsyre Blue cows milk cheese and another batch of Lanark White ewe’s milk cheese.

A statement released tonight by FSS said: “Both O157 and non-O157 strains of E. coli have been detected in a number of different types of cheese produced by Errington Cheese Ltd.

“Errington Cheese Ltd has not voluntarily withdrawn these products so... FSS as the designated central public food body in Scotland, is initiating the withdrawal of all cheese produced by Errington Cheese Ltd from the marketplace.

“FSS and South Lanarkshire Council’s investigations into food safety related to unpasteurised cheese produced by Errington Cheese Ltd are ongoing. Actions will continue to be determined by what is necessary to protect public health and the interests of consumers.”

The affected products include Dunsyre Blue, Dunsyre Baby, Lanark Blue, Lanark White, Maisie’s Kebbuck and Cora Linn cheeses.

Customers are advised not to eat these products and to return them to shops where they were purchased, as these strains of the bug can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain and kidney failure in the most serious cases.

An FSS spokesman said the outbreak in South Lanarkshire and more recent outbreak in Angus are being linked.

• READ MORE: Children in Angus taken ill with E.coli

NHS Tayside said it is investigating linked cases of E.coli O157 affecting a “small number of children” in the region, which has led to a playgroup being temporarily closed.

The playgroup, which has not been named by NHS Tayside, has been shut as a precautionary measure while investigations continue.

The health board’s Health Protection Team has issued information to parents at the playgroup and an Angus primary school advising them of action to take if they have concerns about their child’s health.

A helpline has also been set up on 0800 028 2816.

The health board is examining possible sources and routes of transmission and said “necessary control measures” have been put in place to prevent the infection spreading.

Consultant in public health medicine, Dr Jackie Hyland, said: “NHS Tayside and Angus Council are together investigating a small number of linked cases of E.coli O157 infection. The risk to the general public remains low and those affected have received appropriate medical treatment and advice.”

An Errington Cheese spokesman said in a statement: “Further to FSS announcement last night that all our cheese should be withdrawn, I would like to re-confirm my position that all the testing we have carried out on our cheese to date has found no trace of Ecoli 0157.

“We have used Micro testing laboratories in the UK and Europe and found no trace of pathogens, we have shown results of all our testing and all Local Authority testing to date to various microbiological experts which has enabled us to come to this decision.”

The company claims it was given only 18 minutes to respond to the FSS over recalling all the cheeses, which did not give them enough time to seek expert advice.