Last updated on 25 July 2012
Agency issues botulism warning
The Food Standards Agency is warning people not to eat a certain batch of Italian olives sold in jars after one person became ill with botulism poisoning after eating them. It has issued a Food Alert for Action.
Investigations are continuing to establish where the jar of olives was bought, as well as other places they may be on sale. However, it has been confirmed that the implicated batch of olives was labelled I DIVINI di Chicco Francesco with the 'best before date' 10/06/2014 and lot number 161/11.
The name Olive Bella di Cerignola, which appears on the label, refers to the type of olive contained in the jar. This type of olive is distributed under a number of different brand names but only the I DIVINI di Chicco Francesco brand is associated with this incident.
The information on the label of the olives (see image below) includes:
Product name on label, which is variety of olive: Olive Bella di Cerignola
Brand: I DIVINI di Chicco Francesco:
Via Catalani, 3-Andria (BA)
Best before date: 10/06/2014
Investigations are focusing on delicatessen shops where this product could be on sale.
A jar of the product is pictured above. It may have been sold with a white decorative paper covering on the lid held with string.
The FSA is asking people who have bought the implicated jar of olives not to eat them and contact their local authority environmental health food safety team who will arrange collection of the product.
The person taken ill with botulism is recovering in hospital. No other cases of illness have been reported.
About product withdrawals and recalls
If there is a problem with a food product that means it should not be sold, then it might be 'withdrawn' (taken off the shelves) or 'recalled' (when customers are asked to return the product). The Food Standards Agency issues Product Withdrawal Information Notices and Product Recall Information Notices to let consumers and local authorities know about problems associated with food. In some cases, a ‘Food Alert for Action’ is issued. This provides local authorities with details of specific action to be taken on behalf of consumers.
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Science behind the story
Botulism is rare in the UK and is caused by toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which attacks the nervous system and can affect people of any age. The infection is not contagious and so cannot be spread from person to person. Symptoms of foodborne botulism typically begin between 12 and 36 hours after ingestion of contaminated food, but may appear in as little as six hours.
Symptoms to look out for are a combination of blurred vision, difficulty swallowing and difficulty speaking – symptoms that rapidly get worse. They are then followed by general muscle weakness. Any person, child or adult, with these symptoms should seek urgent medical advice. Antitoxins have proved very effective in treating the condition if treated early, although full recovery may take several months.
Anyone who has consumed this product and is concerned about the symptoms above should seek urgent medical advice.