Errington Cheese will not face charges over E. coli death

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

HPS said Dunsyre Blue was the likely source of the E. coli O157 outbreak
HPS said Dunsyre Blue was the likely source of the E. coli O157 outbreak
Errington Cheese will not face criminal proceedings in relation to the death of a three-year-old girl due to E. coli.

The firm’s Dunsyre Blue cheese was named as the likely source of an E. coli O157 outbreak last year by Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

At the time it insisted there was no microbiological evidence to make such a conclusion.

A total of 26 people were sickened and 17 hospitalised while two developed haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) between July and September in 2016.

No criminal proceedings to be brought

A three year-old Dunbartonshire girl died as a complication of E. coli infection in September last year.

"After giving the case careful consideration, Crown Counsel have concluded, based on the available evidence, that there will be no criminal proceedings brought as a result of the death,” ​said a Crown Office spokesman.

"Should additional evidence come to light that decision may be reconsidered. The family have been informed of this decision.

"A decision on whether or not to hold a Fatal Accident Inquiry is currently under careful consideration."

A Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) is held following a death in the workplace or in cases which give rise to reasonable suspicion. These are usually held in the sheriff court but may be held in other premises.

Geoff Ogle, chief executive of Food Standards Scotland (FSS), said: “The decision made by crown counsel on whether to proceed with criminal proceedings is entirely independent and separate to the decisions made during this incident, and has different requirements to decisions made under food law.”

Outbreak link to cheese

Testing of Dunsyre Blue and other unpasteurised cheeses identified shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) and stx ​​negative E. coli O157 but they were not the outbreak strain.

Actalia, a dairy testing lab, found the E. coli strain identified by Food Standards Scotland in an unsold batch of cheese did not have genes that would make it toxic.

Following the outbreak, the firm has revised its food safety management system to include raw milk testing for E. coli O157 (every batch) and STEC (quarterly).

Errington Cheese received two runner-up prizes at the Great British Cheese Awards in London this month for Best Artisan Cheese producer and Best Blue Cheese - Lanark Blue.

Related topics: Dairy Foods, HACCP, Regulation and safety

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1 comment

Why?

Posted by Bob Salmon,

Why waste official resources chasing this producer when the tests indicate that they were not to blame? Is it just because the officials want to justify themselves? Why have they not tested other possible sources of the infection? Are they trying to ban anything with raw milk in it?

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