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Italian Olives Recalled Over Botulism Concerns

Nearly a week after a woman in Finland died from botulism poisoning — the result of eating tainted Italian olives — a U.S. distributor is warning consumers not to eat Bio Gaudiano Organic Olives Stuffed with Almonds because they may be contaminated with the Clostridium botulinum toxin.

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The distributor, Pure Italian of Watertown, MA, together with the manufacturer and packer, Bio Gaudiano of Italy, are recalling all sizes of glass jars and cans and all lots of the Bio Gaudiano almond-stuffed olives, which were sold at the SoWa farmers market in South End, MA, and also distributed to other Massachusetts retailers. 

The recalled organic olives sold at the SoWa farmers market were in 314 ml glass jar with a white label that reads Bio Gaudiano and a green twist-off metal lid with the lot number E0511X  and an expiration date of  05/2013. 

Other sizes and lots of the organic Italian olives went to unnamed Massachusetts retailers, according to the recall notice. The notice did not include label information on those products.

In Finland, two adults from the same household were hospitalized, and one died after eating Bio Gaudiano almond-stuffed olives. Both were diagnosed with botulism and their jar of stuffed organic olives was subsequently discovered to contain the toxin, the National Institute for Health and Welfare reported. 

The Bio Gaudiano organic almond-stuffed olives implicated in the Finland botulism cases had the lot  H2510X and an expiration date of 09/2012. 

On Oct. 21, the Rapid Alert System for Foods and Feeds first posted a notice about the botulism poisoning in Finland and said the suspect olives had also been distributed to Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not publish a recall notice until Wednesday, Nov. 2. 

In its news release, Bio Gaudiano said the U.S. recall was “a preventative and precautionary measure in the interests of consumers.”

The company said consumers who purchased Bio Gaudiano Stuffed Olives with Almonds of any size or lot should not consume them, but may return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or discard them.

For more information contact Pure Italian LLC at 617-372-1659 or 617-331-2062 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Botulism is a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, that can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

© Food Safety News
  • Many canned or bottled products are susceptible to botulism. It is a high risk when improper canning techniques are used. It is not easy to detect in glass bottles but canned goods infected with botulism often have bulges.

  • No, the problem is the almond stuffing which raises the pH of the acidic olives to the levels where botulism can grow.

  • mrothschild

    Kevin: Just to clarify a point here … Some might infer from your comment “it’s not easy to detect botulism in glass bottles” that it in fact can be detected by consumers. I’m sure you know that many foods contaminated with botulinum toxin do not look or taste any different than normal. And while one should never eat home-made or commercially prepared food from dented, bulging or leaking containers, there isn’t always a telltale sign that canned food is contaminated.

  • Mary Rothschild

    Kevin: Just to clarify a point here … Some might infer from your comment “it’s not easy to detect botulism in glass bottles” that it in fact can be detected by consumers. I’m sure you know that many foods contaminated with botulinum toxin do not look or taste any different than normal. And while one should never eat home-made or commercially prepared food from dented, bulging or leaking containers, there isn’t always a telltale sign that canned food is contaminated.

  • Mary,you’re absolutely correct. After rereading my post, I see that I wasn’t very clear in my explanation. I was just trying to point out that bulging cans be a tell tale sign. Thanks for the clarification.

  • As pointed out in this post, sometimes there can be a delay as to when the FDA publishes a recall notice. For this reason, consumers should find ways to keep in contact with companies that supply the products they use to allow for more effective communication should a recall occur. This is especially important as food recalls have been on the rise in recent months. In fact, according to the third-quarter ExpertRECALL Index, food recalls affected nearly six times the number of units than the previous quarter. Read more on ExpertINSIGHTS Blog:http://www.expertrecall.com/food-pharma-and-device-industries-face-increased-recall-management/