Errington Cheese news

Errington Cheese News & recipes

Dunsyre Blue Update 13/08/16

13 August 2016

All our testing, covering a period of almost 6 months from 21 March to date, is completely clear of E.coli 0157

All authority testing is negative for E.coli 0157

All customer testing for Ecoli 0157 is negative

All farm testing for E.coli 0157 is negative

At least six samples have been taken from the implicated batch D14; they all tested negative for E.coli 0157

We haven’t been shown the outbreak report, the food histories of those affected (names redacted), or any other supporting documentation. All we have seen is a flow chart (based, we know, on inaccurate data) and brief summary, both of which were issued at the time of our voluntary recall of the cheese. The flow chart only relates to 9 out of 19 cases of illness, not all of whom had eaten any blue cheese.

We don’t know why IMT (Incident Management Team) concluded that cheese batches C22 and D14 were responsible for illness as the wholesalers who supplied all the restaurants did not keep a record of which batches went to which customer; any of 10 batches might have been supplied to these restaurants. We know from both our and the authorities’ tests that D14 was negative for E.coli.

From what we can gather all cases had an onset of symptoms between 1st -15th July (2 week period). However, our cheese was available over a 8/ 9 week period. From this we conclude that the outbreak was more likely to have been caused by something with a shorter shelf life or not by a food at all.

Summary of sales:

C22 67 cheeses sold or 267.3kg. D14 55 cheeses sold or 185.95kg. The total is equivalent to 18,130 × 25g portions eg over 18,000 people would have consumed these two batches of Dunsyre Blue.

Summary of recall:

Only 3 pieces, or 4.5kg of the implicated batches were returned, i.e. the rest had been consumed. These pieces tested negative for E.coli 0157. Had it been the cheese, illness would have been widespread. I did inform Food Protection Scotland (FSS) Health Protection Scotland (HPS) of the likelihood that almost all of the batches would have been consumed. My Environmental Health Officer (EHO) suggested that the recall should be given to trade only, not to the public. This suggestion was refused by FSS.

IMT have made frequent demands for information re our production processes, HACCP etc., which we have supplied. Our own requests for information have all been refused.

Despite a flow of negative tests IMT are continuing to focus only on Dunsyre Blue, as they admitted as early as 27th July.

Why did they ensure this alert got repeated national press coverage, unlike other recalls?

Why didn’t they find evidence of contamination before insisting on the recall? All earlier cheese recalls have been on the basis of evidence of contamination.

In a meeting with our EHO yesterday, he indicated the IMT’s working group has around 30 members meeting several times a week in Aberdeen chaired by HPS; 4 FSS staff, 7 NHS board members, 13+ EHO’s from around the country, 3 members of HPS plus of course all the support staff. At the moment they appear to be working to try to pin something on me; they seem to be taking no notice of an independent report carried out by a specialist microbiologist in the field, or the large stack of microbiological evidence showing E.coli 0157 is NOT in the cheese. 

What has this cost us? People are worried about eating raw milk cheese and blue cheese and have not been purchasing. Health Protection Scotland is wrecking the reputation of Dairy products in the whole country by making them appear unsafe.

I think they need to make a statement saying, at the least, that they have found no trace of E.coli 0157 in the recalled Dunsyre and are looking into other potential sources. At some point someone must look at this objectively and give scientific/microbiological evidence precedence over “circumstantial statistical analysis”.

Selina Cairns

13th August 2016