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E.coli Outbreaks Could Signal Trouble for All Foodservice Operators

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E.coli Outbreaks Could Signal Trouble for All Foodservice Operators

June 29
09:02 2017

Nick 2A batch of cheese linked to a fatal E.coli outbreak in Scotland last year was reported to have caused the death of a three-year-old child from Dunbartonshire, while around 20 others were admitted to hospital. Nick Morrall reinforces why business cover is crucial no matter what industry you work in.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) found a non-O157 strain of E.coli in one sample of Errington’s Dynsyre Blue Cheese, which was reported as a ‘serious risk to public health’. Thirteen samples of Dunsyre Blue and Lanark White cheeses from Errington Cheese were also deemed to be contaminated.

As a result, the company was issued with a ban on the sale of all of their cheese products and it was reported at the time that FSS ordered a recall and subsequent destruction of over £260,000 worth of product, creating a significant financial and reputational hit for Errington Cheese.

Shortly afterwards, Errington Cheese Ltd raised concerns with the Council that there had been a mix-up in batch testing, concerns which duly raised doubts with the emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen. Also known for heading independent inquiries into an E. coli outbreak in central Scotland in 1996 and one in Wales in 2005, Professor Hugh Pennington commented publicly that there was ‘moderately strong evidence against Errington’s Dunsyre Blue cheese, but ‘no scientific evidence’ on Errington’s other products. He also stated that there was a real possibility that the FSS had ‘over-interpreted scientific evidence’.

In a statement at that time, the council said that their clear and primary objective’ was to protect public health, a week after the cheese producer won a court battle against the sales ban. The interim order granted was designed to force the council to either abandon the case against them or initiate new proceedings under food hygiene regulations.

Meanwhile, FSS has acknowledged that there was no microbiological link found between Dunsyre Blue and the outbreak of illness.

Leading food correspondent and member of the committee for the Defence of Artisan Foods, Joanna Blythman, which supported Errington Cheese, welcomed the action.  She said: ‘We feel very strongly that it has to go to court and there has to be maximum transparency and scrutiny of Food Standards Scotland’s behaviour in this case so we’re really looking forward to seeing the outcome of that.’

For Errington Cheese, on the other hand, some degree of reputational damage and financial implications will of course be a factor in the future success of the company.

Nick Morrell is a risk management consultant at Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers. 

Defined as the continuing process to identify, analyse, evaluate and treat exposure to loss, risk management is essential in order to mitigate the potential adverse effects of loss from a number of factors including the financial risk from liability judgments and claims, operational risks from strikes and fire, flood and damage as well as strategic risks of reputational loss. It is imperative that all businesses, no matter what sector they operate in, undertake a full risk management review and put in place the necessary insurances to protect against the cost of risk.

For more information on any aspect of risk management, visit

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Catering Scotland

Catering Scotland

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