More than one week after Gort’s Gouda Cheese of Salmon Arm, B.C., was permitted to resume operations, an additional E. coli illness has surfaced in the outbreak that killed one customer and sickened at least 25 others.
The latest illness, a case in Manitoba, is the 27th E. coli O157:H7 infection associated with the outbreak, which was first announced Sept. 17. The Public Health Agency of Canada ordered the farm to halt all operations and sales until it could conduct a thorough investigation at the farm, and Gort’s voluntarily recalled all 15 varieties of raw milk cheese products it sells.
The farm was cleared to reboot production on Oct. 18 after adapting some operations to conform to new conditions set by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, according to a spokesman for the B.C. Ministry of Health. The farm can begin selling freshly made cheese, as well as any cheese produced prior to May 27.
One such condition requires Gort’s to test and hold its raw milk cheese before it leaves their facilities to ensure the farm does not send any more contaminated products to market. Those results will be regularly reviewed by inspectors, said the B.C. CDC director of food protection services.
Seeing as more cases may still come to light, the Public Health Agency of Canada has not announced an end to its epidemiological investigation.
The current case count by province is as follows:
Alberta (10 ill), British Columbia (12), Manitoba (2), Quebec (1), Saskatchewan (2).
Victims of the Gort’s outbreak fell ill between mid-July and late September after consuming unpasteurized cheese products from the farm, which were purchased at retail stores and directly from the farm.
On its website, the farm said its facilities are inspected by government agencies six times a year.
“Together with our support team and the government authorities we have now thoroughly gone through our entire facility to possibly identify and rectify any issues we may have had,” a statement on the Gort’s website reads. “No E. coli was found in our plant, but a few test samples did show the presence of E. coli. These were all destroyed.”
One elderly woman from Vernon, B.C., died in August as a result of her infection after eating the cheese.© Food Safety News