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Dunsyre Blue cheese case

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    Posted: 24 Aug 2016 at 12:27am
Anyone got a view on this? Is this little guys being put down by big government? No Ecoli found yet cheese condemned. Thanks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2016 at 11:25pm
It is unlikely that we will get anyone with first hand knowledge of this situation to post. The information does seem to be confusing and I understand that the company are disputing some of the claims made by the regulatory agencies.

If you look at my post on Listeria -see http://www.dairyscience.info/forum/listeria-deaths_topic431.html-you will get an idea of how difficult it might be for a manufacturer to prove that a batch of cheese was not involved in a food poisoning incident.

It would not be sufficient to say that a pathogen was not found in the cheese at testing some time after the outbreak had ended. Some of these pathogens can cause illness when present at concentrations (1 viable cell) that make them difficult to detect. If you combine this with a stratified, discontinuous distribution (a biofilm might only release significant numbers of cells after 4-6 hours) and the decline in numbers of the pathogen that would be expected in correctly processed cheese, then you can see the difficulty in convincing regulators that a cheese made from raw milk should not be a suspect in an outbreak of  food poisoning.We have fairly good information on the decline in numbers of E. coli in cheese. Given the cheese composition (pH, lactic acid concentration, salt in moisture), temperatures and times during distribution and estimates of initial numbers, it should be possible to model numbers in the final E coli 0157:H7 can survive cheese making.

Post process contamination is of course possible. When things go wrong the absence of a critical control like pasteurization will always raise suspicion with regulators.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Sep 2016 at 10:02pm
Update

The forums are moderated and I have not approved the responses to Riker's post. The responses were somewhat extreme. 

E. coli 0157 is a particularly dangerous pathogen and it is with regret that I report a child infected in the outbreak of food poisoning died today. See http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-37279815 for more information. I am sure that  readers will echo Dr Alison Smith-Palmer, from Health Protection Scotland's Incident Management Team (IMT) when she said: "On behalf of the IMT, I would like to take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of the child who has died."

The posts did raise issues that do need to be discussed. These ranged from compulsory relevant technical training for staff in small companies producing high risk food, bans on raw milk through to promotion of perceived benefits of raw milk cheeses.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote riker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2016 at 11:47am
oK see situation.

How easy is it to prove dairy herd free of Ecoli 0157 ?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2016 at 10:29pm
The short answer is "difficult" and if if this was possible it would only apply to the time that this decision was taken. 

The reported incidence of E coli 0157:H7 in dairy herds is fairly low, generally much less than 10% of herds. Adult cows carrying this organism usually show no symptoms so it is difficult to know whether this pathogen is present. It is generally accepted that the incidence is under reported.

Because only a small numbers of cows may be infected the concentration of pathogen in bulk tank milk may be low (possibly much lower than 1 CFU / ml) and infected animals may not always shed E coli 0157:H7 continuously, there may be breaks in excretion, it can be difficult to detect the organism. Ideally numerous samples need to be taken across all milkings. Cows are milked three times a day in some farms in the UK and Ireland. In addition to testing samples from the bulk tank, samples should be taken from milk jars to increase the probability of detection.

Assuming you could prove that a herd was free of E coli 0157:H7 that could change shortly there after. Farms are not operating theaters and despite many having good biosecurity plans they are largely open to the elements including visitors, rodent and birds and ongoing vigilance is required to combat infection.  

It is for reasons like this that many scientists advocate pasteurization of milk to assure public safety.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote riker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2016 at 2:53pm
I would appreciate views on how to make raw milk cheeses safer. Perhaps hold for 60 days before sale?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2016 at 11:02pm
I can only make summary comments in the forum. I will come back to your query. In the meantime I will simply say that education is a large part of the solution. Not just for the cheese makers but for the milk producer and the consumer as well. There is risk in most things in life. We need to understand these risks and take proportionate action to mitigate them. And I will comment on holding prior to sale.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 2016 at 12:19pm
I will briefly comment on holding raw milk cheese prior to sale. It has been known for many years that holding hard cheeses made from raw milk for 60 days may not eliminate or adequately reduce numbers of  E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella sps present in cheese. The situation for mould ripened cheeses is potentially even more serious. The pH in mould-ripened cheeses increases (the cheese becomes less acid) during storage potentially enhancing the growth of any listeria present.

It can be argued that while there may be some benefits (arguable) to ageing hard cheese for 60 days prior to sale that the risks to public health are increased by this practice for mould-ripened cheeses.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote riker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Sep 2016 at 1:01pm
I see all cheese sales stopped. Surely this unfair?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2016 at 12:04am
E. coli 0157:H7 can have a devastating effect on children and vulnerable people. Survivors may loose their sight, have lifelong gut problems and need lifetime dialysis.-see https://www.sundaypost.com/in10/health/mum-makes-desperate-plea-e-coli-awareness-new-outbreak-frightens-scottish-families/ Actions of regulators can be evaluated when outbreak is finally over. It would seem that other children are also ill. See http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-37412714 . Regulators are in a difficult position but their priority must be protecting public health. Hopefully there will be no further deaths of children. If so, the regulators may be criticised for not acting earlier.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote riker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2016 at 8:40am
sorry for more questions. Any science for risk from raw milk cheese. Is soft cheese more risky than hard?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2016 at 8:03pm
There are a number of published risk assessments for raw milk cheeses. One of the most comprehensive, "Microbiological Risk Assessment of Raw Milk Cheese", has been produced by Food Standards Australia /New Zealand using quantitative models developed by the University of Tasmania. The assessment can be downloaded from https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/proposals/documents/P1007%20PPPS%20for%20raw%20milk%201AR%20SD3%20Cheese%20Risk%20Assessment.pdf

The scope of the risk assessment was to evaluate the risk to the public from the consumption of very hard (<36% moisture), hard (37 - 42% moisture),semi-soft (43 - 55% moisture) and soft (>55% moisture) ripened and unripened cheeses produced from milk derived from the main commercial dairy species of cow, sheep and goat. 

The group producing the assessment concluded that for the general population:
• The selected extra hard raw milk cheeses were all assessed to pose a low to
negligible risk to public health and safety as survival and growth of
Campylobactyer jejuni/coli, enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC),
Salmonella spp., Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes is very
unlikely.
• The selected Swiss-type raw milk cheeses were all assessed as posing a low to
negligible risk to public health and safety for the general population as survival
and growth of C. jejuni/coli, E. coli (EHEC), Salmonella spp. and S. aureus is very
unlikely.
• The modelled raw milk Cheddar cheese was assessed as posing a high risk to all
population groups due to the survival and growth of pathogenic E. coli during
cheesemaking.
• The overall risk to public health and safety posed by the modelled raw milk blue
cheese was unable to be ascertained due to a lack of data.
• The modelled raw milk Feta cheese was assessed as having a high risk to public
health and safety to all population groups due to the survival of pathogenic E. coli
during cheesemaking.
• The modelled raw milk Camembert cheese was assessed as having a high risk due
to the survival and growth of pathogenic E. coli.

The authors concluded that the key determinant for the safety of raw milk cheese is the microbiological quality of the raw milk. This is largely outside the control of the raw milk cheesemaker and helps explain the attention that raw milk cheese frequently receives in outbreaks of food poisoning.

This information is not new. It has been known to dairy scientists for many years and creates a virtually impossible scientific challenge to the validation of HACCP schemes for many raw milk cheeses (there is no corrective action, in the absence of heat treatment) to eliminate pathogens in the incoming raw milk.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote riker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Oct 2016 at 3:13pm
Any chance of posting resources that raw milk cheese makers could use to help understand the risks?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Oct 2016 at 6:18pm
There are excellent resources elsewhere. I will mention a few on the microbial risk side.

Food Standards Australia / New Zealand offer amongst the best free On Line scientific resources in this area and these are based on their collaboration with scientists at the University of Tasmania. Their approach to approving new raw-milk cheesemakers is rigorous and science-based and perhaps should be adopted more widely.

Small companies outside New Zealand / Australia may not have the technical expertise to utilise this free information and may need help.

The challenge for artisan cheesemakers is to access experts who understand the cheese ecosystem, raw milk production at farm level, cheesemaking, microbial enumeration and statistics! Quite challenging to get this from one person.

Professor Catherine Donnelly, at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese (part of the University of Vermont), leads a team that provides expert scientific advice to small scale cheesemakers. Professor Donnelly is an expert on listeria.

In Southern Ireland the microbiologists and cheese technologists at University College Cork and Moorepark can provide wold class support to artisan cheesemakers.

In Northern Ireland CAFRE working with AFBI and QUB can also provide help.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Oct 2016 at 9:46pm
I received an Email suggesting that milk filters are a more sensitive medium for testing for the presence of pathogens capable of growth in raw milk cheeses and that I should mention their use for this purpose. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote riker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Nov 2016 at 4:27pm
appreciate your take on developments in Scotland re above. Has production started yet?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Nov 2016 at 6:12pm
Apologies for delay in responding.

This topic has been well worked.

No production has not restarted. You can get the latest information on the company website, the BBC and FSS websites.

Following action by the company to initiate a judicial review, FSS has now publicly released their data concerning the outbreak. This can be accessed here.

The FSS, not surprisingly, have agreed to refund the legal costs incurred by the company withdrawing the judicial review. 

It is apparent from the release of the scientific information that FSS has several concerns about the company and its approach to cheese making. It is difficult to understand why it took the threat of a judicial review to release this information. Surely sharing their data and concerns with the company earlier would have been helpful? This may have helped the company to take the remedial action (assuming off course that the company accepted the FSS findings) that resulted in production restarting
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