Authorities in the United States have confirmed the country did receive a “small” amount of raw cow’s milk cheese that has been linked to an E. coli O26 outbreak in France. There are a number of confirmed patients, including at least 13 children who developed kidney failure.
Ulysses W. Garrett III, from the office of regulatory affairs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told Food Safety News that the product was not offered for sale and was destroyed. He said no illnesses have been reported in the United States.
Packages of St. Marcellin Valcr. Gres 6×80 gram with a lot/product number 2018211 and date May 21, 2019, were imported into the United States. FDA officials previously said the agency was unaware of any distribution in the U.S. of the recalled product and that it had not been contacted by the recalling firm.
In Canada, La Fromagerie Hamel recalled Le Pic brand Saint-Félicien cheese because of potential E. coli O26 contamination. There have been no reported illnesses associated with the product.
Outbreak in France
French authorities reported an outbreak of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) O26 with 13 pediatric hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) cases since March 21. HUS is a severe complication associated with E. coli infections that causes kidney failure and usually occurs a week or more after the onset of diarrhea.
Several children ate Saint-Félicien and Saint Marcellin cheeses before onset of symptoms. Three of them have a possible link with consumption of these cheeses manufactured by Fromagerie Alpine.
Epidemiological, microbiological and food traceability investigations are ongoing to determine the source of infection of the various cases in several regions of the country.
Santé publique France and the National Reference Center for E. coli, Shigella and Salmonella at Institut Pasteur enhanced surveillance of HUS to detect possible new cases.
Global distribution but no other cases
More than 30 countries received the recalled cheese including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported that no other country has so far reported cases with similar strain characteristics or illnesses linked to the implicated vehicle of infection. The product is known to have been sold in other European countries and worldwide.
The French Ministry of Agriculture and Food has expanded the recall this past week. Saint-Félicien or Saint-Marcellin produced by Fromagerie Alpine but marketed among other cheeses in trays have also been affected. Recalled cheese trays have one of the following four approval numbers: FR 35 068 004 EC, FR 59 343 030 EC, FR 63 113 081 EC or FR 84 007 011 EC.
Cheeses produced and marketed by Fromagerie Alpine under the names of “Romans de Romans”, “Tomme / Sac de Vigneron” or “assortiment de fromages de vaches” are also involved. As are Saint-Félicien or Saint-Marcellin produced by the company but marketed under the name Seillac.
Originally, Saint-Félicien 180-gram and Saint Marcellin 80-gram packages with lot numbers from 032 to 116 were recalled in France.
Authorities previously warned that children younger than 5 years old should not drink unpasteurized, raw milk or eat cheese made with it.
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