29 May 1998

Cheese ban is ordered

AN emergency control order to prevent the sale or distribution of a Caerphilly-type cheese produced in Somerset has been signed by health minister Tessa Jowell following a case of E coli 0157 food poisoning in a 12-year-old boy.

The cheese, produced by Duckett and Co. of Walnut Tree Farm, Wedmore, was linked to the childs illness and resulted first in a food hazard warning from the Department of Health. Then, late last week, Mrs Jowell said investigations indicated that contamination was not restricted to a single batch and none of the cheese produced by the firm could be regarded as safe. She followed that with the statutory order.

The source of the E coli 0157, the bacterium responsible for the deaths of more than 20 people in Scotland in 1996, has still to be identified. No further cases of food poisoning have been reported.