UK-based dairy manufacturer Mrs Kirkham’s cheese is back on sale after an “emergency precautionary recall” made on Christmas eve.

The Food Standard Agency (FSA) recalled five of the company’s cheese products, due to the “potential” health risk from “Shiga-toxin producing E. coli”.

The five cheeses were Mrs Kirkham’s Mild & Creamy Lancashire,  Tasty Lancashire, Mature Lancashire, Smoked Lancashire, and No 1 Waitrose & Partners, Farmhouse Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese.

The FSA alerted everyone who purchased the five variations before and on a specified date (5 February) to avoid eating it..

Some 36 cases of STEC O145 (Shiga toxin-produced E. coli) have been linked to this outbreak, with all of those who bcame ill showing symptoms before 24 December, said the food agency.

The FSA said the dairy business, based in Lancashire in north-west England, had been able to restrict the distribution of cheese from the specified time period.

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Tina Potter, head of incidents at the Food Standards Agency, said: “As a result of extensive efforts carried out by Mrs Kirkham’s […] and Preston City Council, with support from multiple agencies, [the company] has now been able to narrow down their product recall notice.

“In potential food safety issues like this, it’s vital action is taken quickly by the business to protect consumers.”

David Lockwood of high-end cheese retailer Neal’s Yard Dairy, said: “We’ve worked with the Kirkhams for over 30 years and know first-hand the work they do to ensure their cheese is safe and delicious.”

Graham Kirkham, head of Mrs Kirkham’s told UK broadcaster the BBC: “The suspect pathogen is a member of a class of organisms for which no accredited commercial tests are currently available and this is an issue not just for raw milk cheesemakers, but other food suppliers as well.

“With this in mind, and because food safety is of the utmost importance to our business, we are working with the technical experts at the Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association on a review of all our milk production and food safety management systems, making sure that even the smallest risk is identified and dealt with.”

Amy Douglas, incident director for gastro-intestinal infections and food safety division at government body UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said: “Symptoms of STEC include severe diarrhoea (including bloody diarrhoea), stomach cramps, vomiting and fever.

“Washing your hands with soap and warm water and using bleach-based products to clean surfaces will help stop infections from spreading. Don’t prepare food for others if you have symptoms, or for 48 hours after symptoms stop.”