Cheese firm keeps £20,000 of stock after E.coli link

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

£20,000 of cheese won't be destroyed after FSS withdrew its destruction order
£20,000 of cheese won't be destroyed after FSS withdrew its destruction order

Related tags Errington cheese Cheese

The owner of Errington Cheese has won a battle to keep £20,000 of his stock, after Food Standards Scotland (FSS) withdrew its order to destroy all remaining cheese following its alleged link to a July E.coli outbreak.

FSS had ordered the remaining Dunsyre Blue cheese to be destroyed after it claimed tests revealed the cheese was the source of an E.coli​ outbreak, which led to a three-year-old girl dying. The products were recalled by the business on July 28.

Humphrey Errington, owner of the Scottish cheese firm, threatened legal action over the health watchdog’s order, and FSS subsequently withdrew its plan.

“The government lawyers backed off, and agreed we could keep the cheese,”​ Errington told Herald Scotland​. ​[It’s] tantamount to an admission that they had made a mistake ordering it to be destroyed.

‘Completely shut down’

“It is good news, but not that good was we are still not allowed to sell or make any more cheese. We remain completely shut down.”

Food Standards Scotland told “As the product withdrawal concerning products produced by Errington Cheese remains in place, FSS is satisfied that there is no current risk to public health.

“As part of ongoing legal proceedings we have asked local authorities in Scotland to suspend in the interim, the part of the ‘Food Alert For Action’ solely in respect of the destruction of the withdrawn products.”

Errington said he was still waiting to hear if he could take the case to full judicial review, after the company’s internal investigations cleared its cheese of any link to E.coli​ in August. The owner said he wanted details of FSS and Health Protection Scotland’s (HPS) tests which tested positive for E.coli​, to be made public.

Prejudice against unpasteurised milk

Following internal tests, which the company claimed were negative for E.coli​, Errington claimed the agency’s accusations were based on prejudice​ against unpasteurised milk.

At the time, Errington told “We can now say with absolute confidence that, following comprehensive tests and the examination of them by an independent expert microbiologist, there is no evidence whatever for any link to the recent outbreak of illness. The government agency tests also have all proved negative.

“We have to conclude that the HPS/FSS position is based on a malicious prejudice against raw milk cheese, and that this threatens not just our business but the reputation of the whole British artisan cheese industry, one of the great success stories of recent years.”

Meanwhile, the outbreak was declared over​ by FSS in September, resulting in 20 identifiable cases of the bacteria. Eleven of those cases resulted in hospitalisation.


Lanarkshire E.coli outbreak – at a glance

  • 20 cases of E.coli​ identified
  • Three-year-old girl died from food poisoning
  • FSS/HPS linked cases to Errington Cheese products
  • Firm recalled 180kg of cheese
  • Errington Cheese finds no evidence of E.coli​ in its cheese

Related topics Food Safety Dairy

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