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One child dead, 13 others sick in raw cheese E. coli outbreak

A French company this weekend expanded its recall of cheese made with unpasteurized milk after health officials reported a seventh child has developed kidney failure because of an E. coli infection linked to the cheese.

At least 14 children age 5 and younger from various regions of France are confirmed with E. coli 026 infections, according to French officials. One child has died from a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Consumers can identify the recalled cheese by checking for specific labeling codes, provided by the French Ministry of Agriculture. Click on the image to visit the ministry’s website.

The Fromagerie Chabert company, which manufactured the implicate cheese, recalled certain batches of its Reblochons on May 14 after the French Ministry of Solidarity and Health reported seven children aged 18 months to 3 years had E. coli 026 infections. Six of them had developed HUS at that time.

“The investigations carried out by the health authorities have confirmed an epidemiological link between these cases and the consumption of raw reblochons made from branded ‘Our regions have talent’ branded milk sold in Leclerc stores in several regions,” according to the French Ministry of Agriculture (translated electronically).

In addition to expanding the recall of Reblochons, the Chabert company is now recalling another variety of raw milk cheese, tartiflard. The cheeses concerned were manufactured on the site of Cruseilles (Haute-Savoie) but transferred to another site of the company Chabert to be cut and packed, according to statements from France’s Ministry of Agriculture.

The specific descriptions of the recalled cheeses are posted on the agriculture ministry’s website. Several retailers, including Lidl, Leclerc and Auchan stores, carried the recalled cheeses.

After the initial recall in France, Canadian officials followed with their own recall of the cheese as a precaution. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported the cheese might have been distributed nationwide, but complete details were not available. As of that recall, no illnesses had been confirmed in Canada. Whole Foods Market of Canada initiated its own recall of the Reblochons.

Public health agencies in both Canada and France have standing warnings about the dangers of unpasteurized, raw milk and products made with it. In the announcement of the expanded recall, French authorities reiterated that raw milk and raw milk cheeses should not be eaten by children, pregnant women and immunocompromised people.

Inspectors in France are continuing inspections at the Cruseilles site and at dairy farms that provided the unpasteurized, raw milk for the cheese. They are looking for the specific source of the E. coli O26.

Public Health France is also continuing investigations and maintaining surveillance, in connection with the Pasteur Institute, to detect possible new cases of HUS related to consumption of the recalled cheese.

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