The contaminant that resulted in a recall of this Little Qualicum Cheese product, linked to five case of E. coli, has not yet been found as of Nov. 17. — BCCDC photo

Search for contaminant continues at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

Island company ‘blown away’ by support after E. coli recall of Qualicum Spice cheese

After several days of rigorous testing, the search continues for the source of the contaminant that resulted in the recall of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks’ Qualicum Spice cheese on Nov. 13.

“We heard back yesterday about test results and there is still nothing conclusive about the source of the contamination, but we’re, at this point, confident that it wasn’t from raw milk,” said Raymond Gourlay, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks co-owner, on Saturday.

“Other testing of other batches around that time of other raw milk cheeses have made that clear. It was in all likelihood an ingredient contamination, but we can’t say anything conclusive,” he said.

The BC Centre of Disease Control and Vancouver Island Health Authority are currently working with Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, going through the cheese-making process with the company, checking procedures, ingredient and equipment, said Sion Shyng, food safety specialist with the BCCDC.

“We collect samples, check every stage of the production process and all ingredients.”

This comes after five people in B.C. were affected by an E. coli outbreak between August and October, with Qualicum Spice cheese samples tested and found to be contaminated with E. coli.

RELATED: Little Qualicum Cheeseworks cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases in B.C.

Once the source of the contamination is found, the BCCDC can mandate changes based on the source.

In terms of the cheese company’s other products, “the show goes on,” said Gourlay.

“None of our other cheeses, after more rigorous inspection, none of them have been cause for concern or are under question at all,” he said.

“We’re producing all of our other cheeses.”

While such an event is hard on a business, Gourlay said public support has been buoying the company’s spirits.

“We have been actually blown away by the support of the community,” he said. “This week we’ve just had so many people come in and buy cheese and other stuff and just give words of encouragement because they know this is a difficult thing to weather as a business.”

“We’ve been really thankful and humbled by that.”

For those who still have the company’s Qualicum Spice product at home, Gourlay said in a previous interview “we encourage all customers of the product to bring it back to the appropriate retailer. If it was purchased from us, we’re issuing refunds directly from the farm.”

The symptoms of E. coli are:

• severe stomach cramps

• diarrhea or bloody diarrhea

• vomiting

• headache

• little or no fever

Anyone who shows any of those symptoms should visit their health care provider.

Shyng noted that bacteria outbreaks in dairy products are infrequent in B.C.

“All dairy processors develop food safety systems to control for hazards associated with the production of their specific products. The outcome is that food they make and sell are safe. In the event that a problem is found, the goal is to quickly remove the product from the marketplace, and identify, correct and prevent that in the future.”

Just Posted

Ladysmith storyteller chosen for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week

Ladysmith oral story teller Rachel Dunstan Muller recently returned from a tour of northern Quebec.

Cowichan Valley Regional District’s affordable-housing strategy moves forward

Board signs three-year financial agreement for initiatives

North Cowichan council denies rezoning bid for cannabis outlet in Chemainus

Site on Chemainus Road deemed too close to spaces frequented by youth

Get ready to hit the links in support of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce

The Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce is preparing for their 12th Annual Golf Classic.

New book from Nanaimo Historian details social history of the E&N railway

Along the E&N tells the story of 32 establishments from Esquimalt to Campbell River.

Rescuers finally persuade Eiffel Tower climber to come down

The official said the man was ‘under control and out of danger’ on Monday night

B.C. sends 267 firefighters to help battle Alberta wildfires

Out of control fires have forced evacuations in the province

LETTER: Fletcher ‘blurs reality’ on B.C. union public construction

Bridge, highway projects awarded to companies, not unions

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Federal government funds millions to help B.C. police spot drugged driving

Many police departments have expressed wariness about using the only government-approved roadside test

Judge: Mississippi 6-week abortion ban ‘smacks of defiance’

The new law would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected

Oil companies, 24-cent gap between B.C., Alberta to be focus of gas price probe

Premier John Horgan called the spike in gas prices ‘alarming’

Motorcycle deaths spike 50% since 2017

Riders were most likely fatally crash on the weekends compared with the rest of the week

Mother of accused charged in death of Surrey teen girl found in torched SUV

Manjit Kaur Deo charged with ‘accessory after the fact’ in 2017 death of Surrey teen

Most Read