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National cheese recall may be tied to two Minnesota E. coli cases


Two Minnesota E. coli cases may be linked to an outbreak that led to a nationwide recall Friday of artisanal cheese made from raw milk.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that Sally Jackson Cheese of Oroville, Wash., has agreed to a voluntary recall of its cheeses after eight people were sickened with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7. The FDA was informed of the outbreak earlier this month by health regulators in Oregon and Washington.

One victim reported consuming Sally Jackson cheese, while four others may have consumed the company's cheese, according to the FDA.

In the Twin Cities, two people in late September and early November were sickened with E. coli O157:H7 after eating artisanal cheese, said Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the state Department of Health. The victims, one of whom was hospitalized for a day, had E. coli strains that genetically matched those in the Oregon and Washington outbreak.

But investigators have not been able to pinpoint the brand of cheese they ate, he said. The FDA states in a news release that "all Sally Jackson cheese on the market should be avoided."

E. coli O157:H7 can cause fever, chills and diarrhea, and in rarer cases, kidney failure and death.

While federal law prohibits interstate sales of raw milk, and Minnesota restricts its sale, federal law permits the use of raw milk in cheeses aged at least 60 days.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.