Colorado health department officials are warning consumers who purchased Mauri Gorgonzola cheese with sell by dates January 13, 2011, and January 14, 2011, that the product has been recalled.
The distributor, DPI Specialty Foods of Tualatin, Ore., has recalled the cheese because E. coli O157:H7 was found in an unopened package tested at the state health department's laboratory.
When notified of the positive result on Wednesday, the company immediately recalled the cheese.
The cheese was distributed only to Costco stores in Colorado. Mauri Gorgonzola cheese is packaged in clear plastic in approximately 1 lb. wedges. The recalled cheese can be identified by the following information contained on a white sticker on the package: "DISTRIBUTED BY DPI Specialty Foods Tualatin, OR, ITALY 34449" with sell by dates of "01/13/11" or "01/14/11." The Costco item number is 34449.
Consumers who have any of this cheese should not eat it. They should return it to the place of purchase or dispose of it in a closed plastic bag and place it in a sealed trash can to prevent people or animals, including wild animals, from eating the product.
Colorado and several other state health departments, the CDC, and the FDA have been investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections among people who sampled or purchased cheeses that were part of a "Cheese Road Show" at Costco stores Oct. 14-17.
The gorgonzola cheese was tested as part of this outbreak investigation. However, the DNA fingerprint of this cheese does not match the outbreak strain and appears to be a separate incident. To date, no illnesses associated with this gorgonzola cheese have been identified; however, consumers are cautioned not to eat this cheese.
Most people infected with E. coli O157:H7 develop diarrhea and abdominal cramps, but some illnesses may last longer and can be more severe. While most people recover within a week, some may develop a severe infection. Rarely, a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome can occur (as symptoms of diarrhea improve); this can happen at any age but is most common in children under 5 years old and in older adults. People with hemolytic uremic syndrome should be hospitalized immediately, as their kidneys may stop working and they may be at risk for other serious health problems.
State health officials urged individuals experiencing signs or symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 to immediately contact their health care provider. Health care providers also should immediately report any suspected infection to state or local public health authorities.
Costco has removed the cheese from its stores and using card purchase records, has notified consumers by phone of the situation.
Consumers with questions may contact DPI Specialty Foods at 1-800-597-3876.