The Tillamook Cheese Factory halted production and stopped serving food Friday and Saturday after fecal coliform and E. coli bacteria were found in the local water supply. The Kilchis Regional Water System, which includes the cheese factory, Bay City, Northwood, Latimer and Juno, was under a boil water alert after the contaminants were detected March 17.
“The presence of fecal coliforms and E. coli bacteria indicates the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes,” the Tillamook County Emergency Management statement read. “Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms.”
Drinking the water without first boiling it could pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with compromised immune systems, according to the statement. The boil water alert ended Saturday afternoon. TCEM released a statement assuring residents the water was safe to drink. The Tillamook Cheese Factory was open throughout the duration of the boil water alert, but did not serve food and retained only limited staff on the premises.