Mrs Kirkham's cheese in Lancashire given go ahead to resume sales after no trace of E. coli found

The Lancashire-based company said all samples taken by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) showed no evidence of E.coli.
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A Lancashire cheesemaker has been allowed to resume sales after its products were recalled following an E.coli outbreak last year.

Four types of Mrs Kirkham's cheese were withdrawn in December as part of an investigation into cases involving a lesser-known strain of E. coli.

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The Lancashire-based company said it had undergone a full dairy inspection and all samples taken by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) showed no evidence of E.coli.

Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire Cheese Ltd has been allowed to resume sales after a its products were recalledMrs Kirkham's Lancashire Cheese Ltd has been allowed to resume sales after a its products were recalled
Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire Cheese Ltd has been allowed to resume sales after a its products were recalled

The company announced on Friday they had been given the all-clear to resume sale of batches made on or after October 1:

  • Mrs Kirkham's Mild & Creamy Lancashire
  • Mrs Kirkham's Tasty Lancashire
  • Mrs Kirkham's Mature Lancashire
  • Mrs Kirkham's Smoked Lancashire

Graham Kirkham said: “The suspect pathogen is a member of a class of organisms (so-called ‘non-O157 STEC’) for which no accredited commercial tests are currently available, and this is an issue not just for raw milk cheesemakers, but other food suppliers as well.

"With this in mind, and because food safety is of the utmost importance to our business, we are working with the technical experts at the Specialist Cheesemakers' Association on a review of all our milk production and food safety management systems, making sure that even the smallest risk is identified and dealt with.

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"We are committed to leading the industry in producing cheese that is both safe and delicious."

More than 40 samples of milk and cheese made by Mrs Kirkham's over a full five-month time period were tested.

None showed evidence of the outbreak strain of the suspect pathogen, the company said.

Bronwen Percival, the Chair of the Specialist Cheesemakers' Association Technical Committee, said: "The Kirkhams' production practices are excellent – in line with and often exceeding industry standards – which has been recognised since the beginning of the outbreak investigation by the FSA and Preston Local Authority.

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"I'm impressed, but not surprised, by the Kirkhams' dedication in the face of this challenge.

"They are leading the way for the rest of the cheese industry."

More than 40 samples of milk and cheese were tested. None showed evidence of E.coliMore than 40 samples of milk and cheese were tested. None showed evidence of E.coli
More than 40 samples of milk and cheese were tested. None showed evidence of E.coli

Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) infection can vary in severity, ranging from mild diarrhoea to severe abdominal cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea.

STEC infection can be spread by many different routes - not just contaminated food.

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It can be caught from direct contact with an infected animal or close contact with an infected person

David Lockwood, of Neal’s Yard Dairy, said: "We've worked with the Kirkhams' for over 30 years and know first-hand the work they do to ensure their cheese is safe and delicious.

"Every day we have customers asking after the Kirkhams', looking forward to the return of their Lancashire.

"We are delighted to have it back on the counter again."