BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. Cheese Maker In E. Coli Recall Allowed To Sell Again

10/20/2013 06:33 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
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Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm in Salmon Arm, B.C., has been given the go-ahead to resume production a month after it recalled cheese products that were thought to be contaminated with E. coli.

"Good news! We have been given the green light to start selling cheese again," the cheese maker wrote on its Facebook page Friday.

The Public Health Agency of Canada began investigating what would total 26 cases of illness due to the E. coli bacterium, believed to be linked to the consumption of products from Gort's Gouda.

Twelve of the illnesses were reported in B.C., 10 in Alberta, 2 in Saskatchewan, and 1 each in Manitoba and Quebec.

An 82-year-old Vernon, B.C., woman, Corry Van der Linde, died after she became sick, days after she and her husband visited the farm in July. Both she and her husband John became sick. When Corry was rushed to hospital, her condition only got worse and after two failed surgeries, she was taken off life support.

Soon after the investigation into the illnesses began, Gort's Gouda said on its website that the B.C. Center for Disease control had prohibited it from selling or supplying any cheese products produced or processed in the Salmon Arm facility.

It had said its products were tested regularly in an on-site laboratory, and that no problems had been uncovered during the most recent government inspection, on Aug. 28.

Following the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigation, the company said it was able to keep its pasteurized cheese inventory but had to destroy over 500 raw milk cheeses and all its summer raw milk cheese. It said it still doesn't know where the E. coli contamination originated.

"In all the swabbing done on our farm, the CFIA were not able to find E. coli," the company said on Facebook. "Only two wheels of red pepper Gouda out of a batch of over 30 wheels were found to be with E. coli on our farm."

"Where it came from, and why only two wheels, we are baffled," it said.

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