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AbledALERT Post banner shows a screengrab of the Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm website which shows a photo of a variety of cheeses with the headline: E.coli In Cheese Products: 27 Sick / 1 Dead Across 5 Provinces From Raw Milk Cheese.

New E.coli O157:H7 Case In Manitoba Becomes The 27th Related to Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm

 

Raw milk cheeses produced by Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm in Salmon Arm, British Columbia have been identified as the source of an E.coli outbreak that has spread across 5 provinces. 

People who ate any of the contaminated cheese became ill between mid-July and late-September and would likely recover within 5 to 10 days.

However, an elderly woman in Vernon, B.C. died from the infection after eating the affected cheese. All other cases, apart from the fatality in B.C. have recovered or are recovering.

 

Breakdown of Cases

Province / Territory Total cases
British Columbia 12
Alberta 10
Saskatchewan 2
Manitoba 2
Quebec 1
Total 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Affected Products

 

Brand Name: Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm

Common Name: Mild Gouda Cheese

Size: Sold in packages of various sizes, bearing a  red “Raw” sticker

Additional Info: Sold at certain retail stores in British Columbia and through Internet sales from May 27 to September 14, 2013 

 

Lot codes 122 to 138 are affected by this recall.

 

Some product packages may not bear a lot code or indicate that the cheese was made with raw milk. This product may also have been sold clerk-served from deli counters with or without a label or coding.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is advising consumers who are unsure if they have purchased the affected product to contact their retailer.

 

A photo shows the label and package of the Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm 'Mild Gouda Cheese' with an additional red label that reads 'RAW'.

 

The Public Health Agency of Canada ordered the Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm to cease operations and distribution until a thorough investigation was conducted at the farm. Following the inspection and investigation,  the farm was cleared to restart production on Oct. 18th after modifying some processes to conform to new conditions set by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

One condition mandates that Gort’s test and hold its raw milk cheese before it leaves their facilities to prevent the distribution of any more contaminated products. Those results will be regularly checked by inspectors.

The farm was also allowed to begin selling freshly made cheese, as well as any cheese produced prior to May 27th. In the interim, Gort’s voluntarily recalled all 15 varieties of raw milk cheese products that it produces.

 

E.Coli Information

 

At its website, the Public Health Agency of Canada provides the following additional information related to E.coli infections:

E. coli O157 food-borne illnesses are not unexpected in Canada and no unusual increases in the number of these illnesses have been detected nationally. The Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Enteric Surveillance Program shows that E.coli cases in Canada have been declining in recent years.

 

What you should do

Most strains of E. coli are harmless; however, some strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, can make people sick, causing severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Serious complications of an E. coli O157:H7 infection can include kidney failure.

If you think you are sick with an E. coli infection, consult a healthcare professional.

 

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection

Like other food-borne illnesses, the symptoms of E. coli infection mainly involve the gut. Symptoms may vary from person to person; however, they often include:

  • Severe stomach cramps;
  • Diarrhea (often watery and may develop into bloody);
  • Vomiting; and
  • Fever (generally not very high-usually less than 38.5°C/101°F).

Symptoms usually last 5 to 10 days.

Overall, around 5 to 10 per cent of those who get sick from E. coli O157:H7 develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), an acute renal failure which can be fatal. Of those, children younger than five years old and the elderly are at greatest risk of developing HUS. Symptoms of HUS vary. Some people have seizures or strokes and some need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Others live with side effects such as permanent kidney damage.

 

Who is most at risk?

Infections can occur among people of all ages, however symptoms are likely to be more severe among the very young and the elderly. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are also at high risk of developing serious complications.

 

How to protect yourself

Proper hygiene and safe food handling and preparation practices are key to preventing the spread of all food-borne illnesses, including E. coli.

Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of food-borne illness.

 

General food safety

Everyone should practice these general food safety precautions at all times:

  • Wash your hands before and after cooking;
  • Keep knives, counters and cutting boards clean;
  • Keep raw meats separate from other foods when you store them; and
  • Refrigerate or freeze left-overs promptly.

 

Additional information

 

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