NEWS

E. coli outbreak suspected days before recall issued

09/18/2013 06:20 EDT | Updated 11/18/2013 05:12 EST
Health officials suspected an E. coli outbreak was linked to a B.C. cheese farm as early as last Friday, but waited until Tuesday to warn the public because they had to be certain of the source.

Dr. Robert Parker, the chief medical officer for the Interior Health Authority, told CBC News authorities attended Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm in Salmon Arm on Sept. 13, but it took until Tuesday to confirm the outbreak.

Parker says media attention can destroy a business, and the authority wanted to be certain.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed one person has died from the infection and 10 people are ill from consuming the raw milk cheese products.

The agency has identified, and recalled, 14 different cheese products made by the Salmon Arm farm.

- Read more about the recalled products here

Parker says people do not need to stop eating cheese made from raw milk, since there have not been several outbreaks.

“I think if we start seeing repeated outbreaks in unpasteurized cheese products, it might be worthwhile to review again," said Parker.

"There was legislation brought forward in the 90's federally to stop that kind of cheese production in Canada and importation and it didn't pass,” he said.

But Parker added that if there are more outbreaks from unpasteurized cheese, the federal government may want to consider a ban.

In the U.S. raw milk cheese that has been aged 60 days is allowed, but a Seattle based lawyer told CBC News the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering lengthening that period because E.coli can survive longer than 60 days.

Bill Marler says that change is being considered after another raw milk Gouda was recalled three years ago.

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