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Gouda cheese giveaway at Costco not such a good deal after all, linked to E. coli outbreak

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Who among us hasn't grazed through a store, snatching every free sample in site? Well, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, those who did so at local Costcos in mid-October may have gotten more than they bargained for -- a case of E. coli from sample Gouda cheese.

Look below to read a CDPHE release complete with the dates in question and specifics about the bad Gouda, which was rolled out as part of a promotion described as a "Cheese Road Show" -- a phrase that now paints a rather repulsive picture...

Gouda Cheese Purchased at Costco Linked to E.coli O157:H7

Multi-State Outbreak

DENVER -- State health and Tri-County Health Department officials Friday warned consumers who purchased or sampled Dutch Style Gouda Cheese (Costco item 40654) at Costco locations that it has been linked to five-state outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 infections.

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 it.

Twenty-five illnesses have been linked to the outbreak, including eight cases in Colorado. In Colorado, people n the following counties have become ill: Douglas (4), Arapahoe (3) and Boulder (1).

All cases are among Costco shoppers, most of whom sampled cheese during a "Cheese Road Show" at Costco Oct. 14-17. The cheese was available for sale, and free samples were offered for in-store tasting at Costco in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

Other states reporting illnesses include Arizona (11), California (1), Nevada (2) and New Mexico (3). There have been nine reported hospitalizations, one possible case of hemolytic uremic syndrome and no deaths.

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 and Tri-County 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.

The Tri-County Health Department, which serves Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, had the highest number of cases and has been heavily involved in the investigation with the state, FDA and CDC.

"I'm very proud of Tri-County staff, who played a major role in linking illnesses with the cheese served and sold at Costco," said Dr. Richard L. Vogt, executive director of Tri-County Health Department.

Costco has removed the cheese from its stores, and using card purchase records has notified consumers by phone of the situation.

For more information, consumers may call CO-HELP at 1-877-462-2911.

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