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

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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelly Chadwick of Port McNeill tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 3. (Submitted)
Port McNeill mother confirms positive COVID-19 test

The mother of two is self-isolating and following all protocols

Speed limit change on Hwy 19 north of Port McNeill. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
New speed limit near Cluxewe Resort on Hwy 19

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure made the change Dec. 1

Felled spruce and cedar trees waiting to be stripped, sorted and hauled down Island. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Kwakiutl First Nation angry at logging in Douglas Treaty land

The nation is calling on government to honour the Douglas Treaty

The Christmas Tree being put back up in the Thunderbird Mall parking lot. (Thunderbird Mall photo)
Giant Christmas tree returns to Thunderbird Mall Parking lot

At the end of the 2019, extreme winds knocked over the community Christmas tree.

Black Press file photo
Port Hardy RCMP catch shoplifting suspect who allegedly stole over $500 worth of clothing from local store

The suspect was eventually released with multiple conditions and to attend court in February of 2021

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

The opening day on Mount Washington this year was Dec. 4. Screenshot
Mount Washington opens on time, COVID-19 protocols in place

“We’re super excited - it’s been six months in the planning.”

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

Most Read