September 20, 2013 - 4:25 PM
OKANAGAN - The former manager of Gort’s Gouda, and daughter of the original owners has wound up inspecting the establishment for the source of an E. coli outbreak responsible for a death and close to a dozen illnesses.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency insists there is no conflict of interest. After the farm was sold to the Wikkerinks in 2007, Yolanda Gort stayed on as manager. Then in 2010, she was hired by the CFIA Vernon office to do regular inspections of several dairy facilities in the area, including her parents' old farm. In an email, Elena Koutsavakis, with the CFIA, said the agency is confident Gort is “carrying out her duties in a professional and unbiased manner.”
“(As) per our policy, when we are informed of an apparent or perceived conflict of interest, we conduct a review of the situation. In this instance, we verified that appropriate mitigating measures are in place to ensure that the CFIA’s regulatory independence is maintained and that the inspector is able to carry out her duties in an impartial manner,” Koutsavakis said.
Koutsavakis added it is standard practice to include the regular inspector of the establishment in the investigation because they are familiar with the plant and can provide valuable information and guidance to the rest of the investigation team.
At this point, food inspectors still don’t know where the contamination came from. A list of recalled cheeses is posted on the CFIA website.
The farm’s current owners, Gary and Kathy Wikkerink, say they are devastated by the outbreak.
This picture of kittens playing in cream was posted by Gort's Gouda to their Facebook page.
Image Credit: Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013