According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a strain of E. coli bacteria linked to 33 illnesses in five states has been found in samples of Bravo Farms Gouda cheese, which is sold at Costco stores. The outbreak involves a rare strain of E. coli that the Centers for Disease Control have never seen before. On November 4, federal officials and Costco stores warned customers not to eat a raw milk Gouda cheese made by Bravo Farms, based in Traver, California. E. coli cases have been reported in the following states: 15 in Arizona, 10 in Colorado, 3 each in California and New Mexico, and 2 in Nevada. The CDC said 15 of the patients were hospitalized, one of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney complication. Patients range in age from 1-18, with October 24 as the latest onset date. No deaths have been reported.
E coli that matched the strain has been found in samples from two opened packages from two different patient homes, and preliminary tests from an unopened package from a Costco store came back positive for E coli, according to the CDC. Additional tests on samples from opened packages from two other patients revealed E. coli, and more tests are underway to confirm the findings. The Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda cheese was offered for sale and in cheese sampling events at Costco Wholesale Corporation locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The CDC advises Consumers in possession of this cheese that they should not eat it and that they should either return the cheese to the place of purchase or dispose of the cheese in a closed plastic bag and place it in a sealed trash can to prevent people or animals, including wild animals, from eating it.
What is being done to protect consumers? The FDA, CDC and Costco are working together on the investigation and will update the public with more information as soon as it is available. As more information becomes available, the recommendations to consumers may change. The FDA in conjunction with the state of California has initiated an investigation at Bravo Farms. Costco is advising consumers to return any remaining Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda cheese they may have at home to Costco for a full refund. Costco has voluntarily removed the cheese from its stores and, using card purchase records, has notified consumers by phone of the situation.
If you or a loved one became ill after consuming a contaminated product or if you have questions regarding consumer law, please contact our office today. We have over 10 years experience helping consumers who have been injured by dangerous or defective products.