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15 September 2016, 08:04
A food watchdog has issued a blanket ban on the sale of all cheese from a Scottish producer linked to an E.coli outbreak which led to the death of a child.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said the outbreak, in which 20 people were infected including a three-year-old Dunbartonshire girl who died, is being linked to new cases of the infection in Angus.
The organisation is calling for all cheese produced by Errington Cheese, of Carnwath, South Lanarkshire, to be withdrawn from sale, saying E.coli was found in the cheese.
FSS said in a statement: "Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has today issued a Food Alert for Action to heads of Environmental Health Services at Scottish local authorities with immediate instructions to withdraw from sale all cheese produced by Errington Cheese Ltd currently in distribution, and to withhold from sale any cheese not yet on the market, as these products are a potential risk to consumers' health.
"FSS is advising all consumers who have purchased these products not to consume them, and to return the products to where they purchased them.
"Both O157 and non-O157 strains of E. coli have been detected in a number of different types of cheese produced by Errington Cheese Ltd.
"Symptoms caused by both O157 and non-O157 E. coli can include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea, and haemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure. Given the potential severity of illness and the very low doses of this bacterium required to cause illness, FSS believes this action is in the best interests of consumers.''
It added: "FSS and South Lanarkshire Council's investigations into food safety related to unpasteurised cheese produced by Errington Cheese Ltd are ongoing. Actions will continue to be determined by what is necessary to protect public health and the interests of consumers.''
An FSS spokesman said the outbreak in South Lanarkshire and more recent outbreak in Angus are being linked.
NHS Tayside said it is investigating linked cases of E.coli O157 affecting a "small number of children'' in the region, which has led to a playgroup being temporarily closed.
The playgroup, which has not been named by NHS Tayside, has been shut as a precautionary measure while investigations continue.
The health board's Health Protection Team has issued information to parents at the playgroup and an Angus primary school advising them of action to take if they have concerns about their child's health.
A helpline has also been set up on 0800 028 2816.
The health board is examining possible sources and routes of transmission and said "necessary control measures'' have been put in place to prevent the infection spreading.
Consultant in public health medicine, Dr Jackie Hyland, said: "NHS Tayside and Angus Council are together investigating a small number of linked cases of E.coli O157 infection. The risk to the general public remains low and those affected have received appropriate medical treatment and advice.''
A spokeswoman for Errington Cheese declined to comment.