Costco Wholesale – the only U.S. carrier of the European smoked salmon that’s been linked to hundreds of Salmonella illnesses in the Netherlands – issued a recall of the fish Monday, using its automated system to call the nearly 250,000 U.S. consumers who had purchased the product over the past month.
The recalled smoked salmon was sold across the United States under two brands: Foppen and Kirkland Signature. Both products were manufactured by Foppen, a Netherlands-based company. The Foppen-branded fish was processed at a plant in Greece, while the Kirkland Signature-branded fish came from a plant in the Netherlands, according to Craig Wilson, Costco’s director of food safety.
So far only the Foppen smoked salmon from the Greek facility has tested positive for Salmonella, Wilson told Food Safety News. The Kirkland Signature fish was recalled out of extra precaution, he says.
Both Dutch health officials and Foppen itself are continuing to test samples of the recalled smoked salmon. So far, only those produced on one processing line – “Line 1” – in the Greek facility have tested positive, says Wilson.
[The Salmonella] appears to have been isolated at this point from one line, and not the line that produced the stuff that was exported,” says Wilson.
The company’s recall notice for the U.S., issued on Monday reads:
This information is intended for U.S. buyers of Foppen Norwegian Smoked Salmon Slices 12 Oz and Kirkland Signature Norwegian Imported Smoked Salmon 2 x 12 Oz.
As of now there are no health problems reported to Costco nor the manufacturer Foppen regarding salmonella by customers on products sold at Costco. Also there have been no positive testings for salmonella on the above mentioned products.
Final test results are expected to be available Friday, according to Wilson.
Since the shelf life of Foppen’s smoked salmon is 26 days, Costco notified customers who had purchased salmon in the 26 days preceding the recall. Smoked salmon sales spike during this time, says Wilson, because is a traditional dish over the Jewish high holidays, which took place during this time period in September.
There has been speculation that a recent increase in Salmonella Thompson infections in the U.S. may be linked to the imported smoked salmon; however U.S. officials have not yet determined whether any of these illnesses were indeed connected to imported Foppen salmon.
This information may not be available for some time, as Dutch health officials have not yet provided the DNA pattern of the strain causing illnesses, says Wilson.
While Costco received no reports of adverse health effects from customers before it issued the recall of its smoked salmon, it did receive calls reporting illnesses after the recall was enacted.
“Since we’ve called, we’ve gotten some anecdotal illnesses, but no confirmation of illness at this point,” says Wilson.
As Food Safety News reported Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded an uptick in Salmonella Thompson illnesses since last month. Health officials usually note about 30 reported cases of this strain of Salmonella during this time frame, but this year 85 were reported. CDC spokesperson Lola Russell said epidemiologists have not yet identified a common food source.