News & Updates

FSS, FSA and UKHSA warn of the possible presence of E. coli in various Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese

Food Standards Scotland (FSS), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are warning the public not to eat four Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese products which have been recalled as a precaution because they may be contaminated with a specific type of E. coli bacteria called Shiga toxin producing E. coli, also known as STEC or VTEC, a pathogen that can cause food poisoning.

Symptoms caused by STEC organisms include severe diarrhoea (including bloody diarrhoea), abdominal pain, and sometimes haemolytic uremic syndrome, (HUS), a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure and can be fatal.

The cheeses are sometimes served as part of a hamper, as individual portions or can be purchased as a gift set or block, so it may not always be clear whether you have purchased an affected product.

The four cheeses are: 

  • Mrs Kirkham’s Mild & Creamy Lancashire 
  • Mrs Kirkham’s Tasty Lancashire 
  • Mrs Kirkham’s Mature Lancashire 
  • Mrs Kirkham’s Smoked Lancashire

If in doubt, consumers are advised to contact the retailer they bought their cheese from to find out if the cheese they have purchased is from the businesses and batches affected and in the meantime do not eat it, ensure it is stored safely, fully wrapped and not in contact with other foods.

If you have purchased any recalled products, it is important that you:

  • Do not eat the product
  • Thoroughly clean any surfaces, utensils and equipment the cheese may have touched to prevent cross-contamination of other foods and drink
  • Your fridge may be fuller at Christmas, so make sure that fridges are kept at the right temperature - five degrees Celsius (5°C) or below - as this will limit the growth of any harmful bacteria

Stuart McAdam, Head of Incidents at Food Standards Scotland said:  

“We are aware that this recalled product may be popular over the festive period, especially as it has been sold as part of a Christmas gift hamper and so we are urging consumers to check whether they have this product or may have gifted it to others.  

“Due to this outbreak of E. coli O145 we are urging all consumers to ensure they follow the advice in the product recall notices, which details all of the products which may pose a risk. This is especially important for those who are vulnerable – including people who are pregnant and those with weakened immune systems.    

“We are also asking people to make sure that family and friends who may have either purchased the recalled product or have received it as a gift, are aware and observe the advice.”   

Amy Douglas, Incident Director for Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety Division at UKHSA, said:  

“There have been at least 30 confirmed cases of this specific outbreak strain of STEC in the UK.

“Symptoms of STEC include severe diarrhoea (including bloody diarrhoea), stomach cramps, vomiting and fever. If you have diarrhoea and vomiting, you can take steps to avoid passing it on to family and friends over the festive period.

“Washing your hands with soap and warm water and using bleach-based products to clean surfaces will help stop infections from spreading. Don’t prepare food for others if you have symptoms or for 48 hours after symptoms stop.

“Many of us will be travelling for Christmas, but if you are unwell you should avoid visiting people in hospitals and care homes to avoid passing on the infection in these settings. Do not return to work or school once term restarts, until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped.”

It is important that businesses follow the product withdrawal and recalls undertaken, and if they have received the product, ensure good hygiene practice to prevent the risk of cross-contamination – it is possible that other cheese, if handled using the same equipment or on common surfaces, may have also been contaminated and therefore affected.  
FSS, the FSA and UKHSA continue to work closely together and with local authorities in response to this outbreak and further recalls may be undertaken if any more products are found to be affected.