E. coli outbreak linked to blue cheese
Two people are in hospital after an outbreak of the potentially fatal E. coli O157 bug linked to a cheese manufacturer in Lanarkshire.
Two batches of Dunsyre Blue Cheese are being recalled, but the manufacturer said it was just a precaution.
Fourteen people across Scotland have contracted E. coli, with two cases in England.
Two of those are understood to be in a stable condition in hospital while the rest are recovering at home.
Health Protection Scotland (HPS) said initial investigations showed a number of those affected had consumed Dunsyre Blue, made by Errington Cheese, before they became unwell.
They developed their symptoms between 2 and 15 July, with the cases thought to be spread across seven health boards in Scotland.
About 180kg of the Dunsyre Blue Cheese is being recalled, according to Food Standards Scotland.
The agency said cheese with the batch codes C22 or D14 on its packaging should not be eaten, and should instead be either returned to the retailer or disposed of.
Dr Syed Ahmed, clinical director at HPS, said: "The majority of cases have consumed Dunsyre Blue while eating out, but members of the public who purchased Dunsyre Blue cheese between 18 May and 29 July, and still have the product in their fridges, should return it to the retailer where they purchased the product or dispose of it."
Errington Cheese, based at Carnwath, insisted the outbreak had not yet been definitely linked to their product, and that the recall was a precaution.
Founder Humphrey Errington told BBC Scotland: "As a responsible company, we took the voluntary decision last night to recall the two batches of cheese which they were concerned about.
"At the moment we are doing a lot of testing ourselves and investigation to see whether in fact there is any evidence of a connection".
The company said investigations were being carried out by itself and the food regulator.
The family-run farm and cheese business was started by Mr Errington in the early 1980s and is now managed by his daughter.
The voluntary recall was issued after investigations led by Health Protection Scotland into cases of E. coli O157 pointed to a link with particular batches of Dunsyre Blue, a cheese made with unpasteurised milk.
Food Standards Scotland advises that vulnerable groups, including pregnant women, children and elderly people should not consume unpasteurised milk and dairy products made from unpasteurised milk due to the increased risk of food poisoning.
The agency said it was working closely with South Lanarkshire Council and Errington Cheese to further investigate the matter.
Symptoms associated with E. coli O157 can include stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and occasionally fever.
Anyone developing symptoms, including bloody diarrhoea, or who is concerned about their symptoms, should contact their GP or telephone NHS 24 on 111 for advice.