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Peer-reviewed Publication: Multistate Outbreak Of E. coli O157:H7 From Aged Raw Milk Cheese, 2010

Authors from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta report findings from an epidemiologic and laboratory investigation of a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections associated with in-store sampling of aged raw milk gouda cheese at southwestern Costco stores sourced from Bravo Farm in central California. Investigators found deficiencies in sanitation at several points along the food supply chain.

Title: Multistate Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Associated with In-Store Sampling of an Aged Raw-Milk Gouda Cheese, 2010

Authors: McCollum, J.T.1; Williams, N.J.2; Beam, S.W.3; Cosgrove, S.4; Ettestad, P.J.5; Ghosh, T.S.6; Kimura, A.C.7; Nguyen, L.8; Stroika, S.G.9; Vogt, R.L.6; Watkins, A.K.10; Weiss, J.R.11; Williams, I.T.12; Cronquist, A.4

Source: Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 75, Number 10, October 2012 , pp. 1759-1765(7)

Publisher: International Association for Food Protection


In 2010, 41 patients ill with Escherichia coli O157:H7 isolates determined to be indistinguishable by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis were identified among residents of five Southwestern U.S. states. A majority of patients reported consuming complimentary samples of aged raw-milk Gouda cheese at national warehouse chain store locations; sampling Gouda cheese was significantly associated with illness (odds ratio, 9.0; 95 % confidence interval, 1.7 to 47). Several Gouda samples yielded the O157:H7 outbreak strain, confirming the food vehicle and source of infections. Implicated retail food-sampling operations were inconsistently regulated among affected states, and sanitation deficiencies were common among sampling venues. Inspection of the cheese manufacturer indicated deficient sanitation practices and insufficient cheese curing times. Policymakers should continue to reexamine the adequacy and enforcement of existing rules intended to ensure the safety of raw-milk cheeses and retail food sampling. Additional research is necessary to clarify the food safety hazards posed to patrons who consume free food samples while shopping.

Link to the abstract in Journal of Food Protection:

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