Production of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks’ Qualicum Spice cheese remains on hold following an E.coli contamination. - BCCDC photo

Raw milk believed to be source of E. coli contamination in cheese: BCCDC

Production of Qualicum Spice cheese remains on hold

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) believes raw milk was the likely source of an E. coli contamination in Little Qualicum Cheeseworks’ Qualicum Spice cheese.

On Nov. 13, five people in B.C. became sick after consuming products from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, prompting a warning from the BCCDC.

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

For several months, the BC Centre of Disease Control and Vancouver Island Health Authority worked 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.

“Production of [Qualicum Spice] cheese remains on hold. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks has committed to heat treating the milk to reduce risk when the production of Qualicum Spice cheese resumes,” Shyng said. “We continue to monitor for new cases of E. coli linked to cheese, however, there have been no new cases since early November.”

RELATED: Search for contaminant continues at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

Raymound Gourlay, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks co-owner, confirmed that production of the cheese remains on hold.

“Extensive testing revealed that no contamination could be found in the production facility, in the raw milk itself, in other raw milk cheeses made during the same period, in the water or anything else that we tested,” Gourlay said. “BCCDC will publish a statement about the likely cause of the contamination… they’re going with the raw milk.”

Gourlay said he didn’t know the exact amount of Qualicum Spice cheese that was returned during the recall.