As of late Friday afternoon, (Oct. 18) Gort’s Gouda was authorized by The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and other health organizations to resume sales of their cheese products.
In a statement on their Facebook page, the Wikkerink family, owners of the farm announced the news and began immediately to offer the products which were previously under recall orders. Gort’s sales location on the farm began to immediately sell their cleared products. Some local stores, including Windmill Meats, also began selling stock, along with a note from the company explaining that all the appropriate health agencies have cleared the products available for sale.
“Good news!! We have been given the green light to start selling cheese again. We were able to keep our pasteurized cheese inventory,” says the online statement.
In mid-September, a total of 15 varieties of Gort’s cheese were recalled.
“Only two wheels of red pepper Gouda out of a batch of over 30 wheels were found to be with E. coli on our farm. Where it came from and why only two wheels, we are baffled. Over 500 raw milk cheeses were destroyed, all our summer raw milk cheese. In all the swabbing done on our farm the CFIA were not able to find E. coli,” says the statement from Gort’s.
The farm has been selling only yogurt, milk and meat since shortly after the first recall was announced.
Wikkerink estimates that more than two tons of cheese were discarded.
“Probably two tons that has not been in circulation, plus what was in circulation.”
The discarded raw-milk cheese was taken to Spa Hills Farm for composting.
As of Friday, 26 cases of E. coli O157:H7 illness linked to the cheese had been reported, 12 in B.C., 10 in Alberta, two in Saskatchewan and one each in Manitoba and Quebec. Of those, a Vernon woman, Corry Vander Linde, died and all others were reported to have recovered or are recovering.
Online reaction to the news was swift and supportive of the Wikkerink’s business.
“We had your raw milk cheese for dinner this very evening! Glad to see you back,” posted David Taylor Gill.
Carrie-Anne Foster notes: “It is unfortunate that so much product had to be destroyed, but fantastic that you are good to go again! You’ve handled this situation with grace. Great job!”