The CDC has issued an alert to consumers and health professionals about an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in five states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Based on current information, there is a link with the consumption of one of several cheeses offered for sampling and sale at the “cheese road show” that was held at Costco Warehouses in these states. This cheese—Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda Cheese (Costco Item 40654) manufactured by Bravo Farms, Traver CA—was sold and offered as free samples for in-store tasting from October 5 to November 1.
Consumers who have any of this cheese should not eat it. Instead, they should return the cheese to the place of purchase or dispose of it in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals, including wild animals, from eating it.
Thirty-seven persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from five states since mid-October. The number of ill persons identified in each state with this strain is as follows: AZ (19), CA (3), CO (10), NM (3) and NV (2). There have been 15 reported hospitalizations, 1 case of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths.
On Nov. 5, 2010, Bravo Farms voluntarily recalled all Dutch Style Gouda cheese because it may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7. The product was distributed primarily through Costco in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico in 1.5 lb. pieces. It was also distributed through various retail stores within California in 8 oz. pieces.
An unopened (intact) package of Mauri Gorgonzola cheese tested as part of this ongoing investigation identified E. coli O157:H7 which does not match the outbreak strain. This cheese was cut, packaged and distributed by DPI Specialty Foods. On November 10, DPI Specialty Foods voluntarily recalled and warned consumers not to eat Mauri Gorgonzola cheese with sell-by dates of 01/13/11 and 01/14/11. The strain of E. coli O157:H7 identified in the gorgonzola cheese is rare with no human illnesses observed in the PulseNet database for the past several years.