Costco Gouda Cheese Recall Issued Due to E. Coli Food Poisoning Risk

A recall has been issued for Dutch-style Gouda cheese sold primarily by Costco in western states, after an outbreak of E. coli has sickened at least 37 people and sparked three food poisoning lawsuits

The Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda cheese recall was announced last week by the FDA after the cheese was tied to the cases of E. coli O157:H7 after a Costco “Cheese Road Show.”

The food poisoning cases have been reported in five states and there has been at least one case of kidney failure reported. Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico have all reported illnesses linked to the cheese E. coli outbreak, but the majority of cases (19) have been in Arizona.

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Three E. coli lawsuits have been filed against Bravo Farms Cheeses, LLC. All of the victims, residents of Phoenix, Arizona, ate the cheese at the Costco “Cheese Road Show,” and health inspectors have found the corresponding strain of E. coli O157:H7 in both unopened packages at Costco and in opened packages in at least two victims’ homes.

E. coli O157:H7 is one of the more common causes of food poisoning in the United States. When left untreated, it can lead to dehydration and potentially life-threatening illness. While most healthy adults recover from food poisoning caused by E. coli within a few weeks, young children and the elderly could be at risk for more severe illness. If the toxin enters the blood stream, E. coli could also lead to kidney failure known as Hemolytic-Urenia Syndrome (HUS), which has been reported in at least one outbreak victim.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there are about 76 million cases of food-related illnesses reported every year, with more than 300,000 people hospitalized and 5,000 deaths.

The cheese recall affects all Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda cheese. It was sold in Costco stores in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico in 1.5-pound pieces and sold by some California retailers in 8-ounce pieces.

In addition to the Gouda recall, a recall of Mauri Gorgonzola Cheese, sold exclusively at Colorado Costco stores, has also been announced by the FDA. Colorado health inspectors discovered that an unopened package of the gorgonzola cheese was contaminated with a strain of E. coli during a search for the cheese that caused the food poisoning outbreak.

Mauri Gorgonzola was also distributed at the “Cheese Road Show” but there have been no illnesses or injuries associated with that product. That recall affects all Mauri Gorgonzola cheese sold at Colorado Costco stores with sell by dates of January 13, 2011, and January 14, 2011. The cheese was sold in wedges weighing approximately one pound and wrapped in clear plastic. A white sticker on the package will have “DISTRIBUTED BY DPI Specialty Foods Tualatin, OR, ITALY” with the sell by dates and a Costco item number of 34449.

Any consumers who have purchased either cheese should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.


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