Two days before Christmas, Scotland’s troubled Errington Cheese Ltd. recalled all batches, all sizes, and all date codes of its Dunsyre Blue cheese because the product contains Listeria monocytogenes.
The recall notice puts Errington’s Dunsyre Blue back in the news just two months after the Crown decided not to prosecute the company for the product. Health Protection Scotland found Dunsuyre Blue was the source for a 2016 E. coli O157 outbreak that killed a 3-year old girl and sickened 25 others.
The latest Dunsyre Blue problem surfaced on Dec. 12 when Errington recalled a single batch (J9) because “routine customer testing” found Listeria in a pasteurized sample. “We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused,” Errington said.
But on Dec. 23, the Food Standards Agency of the United Kingdom and Food Standards Scotland announced that because further testing by Errington found Listeria in other batches, it was all recalled.
Errington put up a point of sale notices in every location selling the award-winning cheese. It asked customers to dispose of any Dunsyre Blue cheese they’d purchased and offered refunds.
Listeria causes symptoms that are much like the flu, including high temperatures, muscle aches, chills, diarrhea, and feeling sick. Rare cases of the infection can cause more severe complications, including meningitis. The elderly, pregnant women and unborn babies, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are especially at risk.
Errington, based in Lanarkshire, has never accepted that it’s unpasteurized Dunsyre Blue was the cause of the deadly E. coli outbreak.
When it expanded the current recall to include all batches of the Dunsyre Blue product, it posted a statement on the company’s website saying it was “terribly sorry” to have made the decision “amid Listeria fears.”
Since the Health Protection Scotland report that linked them to the E. coli outbreak, Errington has produced Dunsyre Blue with pasteurized milk on new equipment.
The Dunsyre Blue cheeses involved in this recall have not yet caused any illnesses.
While it escaped criminal prosecution, Errington still has a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) and civil actions to deal with from the E. coli outbreak. The company reports spending more than $1 million to restore its name to where it was before the E. coli outbreak.
Food Standards Scotland’s management of that investigation has come in for its share of criticism. Professor Hugh Pennington, one of Britains best-known food safety experts, called that probe “a mess.” And a Committee for the Defense of Artisan Food was formed to defend Errington and prevent future injustices.
Errington was a pioneer in artisanal cheese-making in Scotland.
The incident management team investigating the outbreak found E. coli bacteria was about to contaminate Errington’s cheese production.
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