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Saturday, May 9, 1998 Published at 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK


E.coli case sparks cheese alert
image: [ The public are advised not to eat the company's cheeses ]
The public are advised not to eat the company's cheeses

A nationwide health warning has been issued after a schoolboy was found to have developed a potentially-fatal E.coli infection after eating a suspect cheese.

Martin Carter, of Somerset Health Authority, says the measures are a precaution
The 12-year-old from the Wedmore area of Somerset was taken to a Bristol hospital after his parents called their family doctor.

He had eaten a Caerphilly cheese containing chives made by the Wedmore-based firm Duckett and Co.

Cheeses removed from sale

As a result environmental health inspectors are visiting specialist cheese shops and wholesalers and ordering them to remove all cheeses made by the company.

[ image: The E-coli bacterium killed 20 people in Scotland in one outbreak]
The E-coli bacterium killed 20 people in Scotland in one outbreak
In a hazard warning released on Friday night by the Department of Health, local authorities were asked to obtain samples of the cheese for testing.

A DoH spokesman said: "We are not certain that the cheese is the cause of the E.coli. This is purely a precautionary measure, given the potentially serious nature of E.coli 0157 food poisoning.

"But we would urge people not to eat cheese made by this company until tests have been carried out."

Family-owned firm 'devastated'

Christopher Duckett, a director of the family-owned firm based at Walnut Tree Farm, said: "Cheese has been made by the Duckett family for three generations.

"We are, of course, very concerned that our product may have been associated with a case of food poisoning. Investigations into the source of the contamination are continuing.

"All current stocks of cheese on the farm have been tested and shown to be clear. There has never been an official complaint made about any of our products before and this one has left us devastated.

"The intensive investigation which is now taking place may show there are no further problems."

Martin Carter, of Somerset Health Authority, said: "There has been a nationwide search to see if any other cases are emerging and none have come so far.

"It is important to ensure that people are aware what type of cheese could be a risk."

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