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Two more E. coli cases linked to Gort’s
Two more cases of E. coli-related illness are being linked to Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm, bringing the total number of cases to 24, including the death of a Vernon woman.
As of Thursday, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported the most recent cases are located in B.C. and Alberta. So far, Gort’s cheese products have been linked to 11 cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection in B.C., 10 in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan, one in Manitoba and one in Quebec. Although one person died, all others are either recovered or recovering.
Meanwhile, Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials are not saying whether E. coli 0157:H7 has actually been discovered in the cheese production facility during their inspections.
Tuesday afternoon, the CFIA replied to questions from the Shuswap Market News by stating: “The CFIA has conducted a food safety investigation at Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm to assess how and where contamination may have occurred. The CFIA will issue a final report of its investigation as soon as a full analysis of findings has been completed.”
Similarly, the BC Centre for Disease Control offered no timeline or information.
In the meantime, Salmon Arm residents continue to express their sympathy and support for Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm and the Wikkerink family who owns the operation.
At DeMille’s Farm Market, which has carried Gort’s cheese for more than two decades, owner Brad DeMille said while he will reimburse customers who have proof of purchase with returned cheese, he won’t be submitting any credits to Gort’s.
“I think it adds insult to injury. They’re going through a challenge; I think they can survive this, but they need all the help they can get.”
He said DeMille’s will be ordering cheese as soon as the farm is able to supply it again.
“I feel so horrible for them. It’s so beyond their control. CFIA is still looking for the original cause. It could happen to any one of us. What if somebody gets sick from an apple?” he remarked, adding, “They have my support 100 per cent.”
At Hanna & Hanna Orchards, co-owner James Hanna said the situation is tragic, and he hopes the cheese farm will be able to overcome this.
“My heart goes out to them.”