The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is warning the public not to consume a brand of made-in-B.C. raw-milk cheese that may be contaminated with E. coli virus.
A recent outbreak investigation has linked 14 kinds of Gort's Gouda cheese sold in stores and online from May 27 to Sept. 14 to 11 cases of E. coli illness and one death. Five cases have been reported in B.C., including one person in the Interior who died in late August after eating the cheese.
The death has yet to be conclusively linked to Gort's Gouda.
While Gort's Gouda cheeses are sold and served in Nanaimo, Valerie Wilson, spokeswoman for Vancouver Island Health
Authority said there have been no reported cases of E. coli illness on Vancouver Island yet.
Fred Jameson, a food safety recall specialist, said hundreds of kilograms of potentially infected cheese has been either consumed, on the market or in people's homes.
"The root cause hasn't been identified yet," he said. "Whether it's an ingredient, a handling issue, we don't know."
The CFIA has given a "Class 1 Hazard Warning," which Jameson said means there is risk of death.
He said the investigation continues but evidence pointing to where the virus came from is strong.
"We want consumers not to consume it and we want it off shelves," Jameson said.
Gort's Gouda cheese, located in Salmon Arm, has voluntarily stopped shipping the 14 cheeses under the recall with lot codes 122 to 138 but are still producing certain products.
According to CFIA, food contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled but can cause serious and possibly life-threatening illnesses - some may have strokes or seizures and need blood transfusions or kidney dialysis. Anyone who has consumed the cheese in recent weeks and is experiencing symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea should see a doctor.
A full list of recalled products is available at www.inspection.gc.ca.
CMcKenna @nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4230
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