No announcement yet.

Italian olives warning after botulism link (UK HPA, July 25 2012)

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Italian olives warning after botulism link (UK HPA, July 25 2012)

    [Source: Health Protection Agency, United Kingdom, full text: (LINK). Edited.]
    Italian olives warning after botulism link

    25 July 2012

    Tests carried out by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) identified the toxin that causes botulism in a jar of Italian olives after an Oxfordshire resident was admitted to hospital with botulism poisoning. No further cases have been identified to date.

    The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is now asking people who have bought jars of the implicated olives not to eat them and to contact their local authority environmental health food safety team to arrange collection of the product.

    The implicated olives are “Olive Bella Di Cerignola” produced by ‘I Divini’. These are large green olives from the Puglia region of Italy and are packaged in brine in glass jars with a lot number of 161/11 and best before date of 10/06/2014. 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 HPA is working with the local authority environmental health department and the Food Standards Agency on the investigation. Botulism is rare in the UK – there have only been 33 recorded cases of food-borne botulism in England and Wales since 1989, with 27 of these linked to a single outbreak.

    Investigations into the supply of these olives are focusing on delicatessen shops where this product could be on sale.

    Health professionals across the UK have been made aware of the case and advised to look out for people of all ages with possible symptoms.

    Botulism is caused by a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum which attacks the nervous system.

    There is a botulinum antitoxin available which is very effective in treating botulism when it is used in the early stages of the infection. The infection is not passed from person to person and symptoms usually occur between 12 and 36 hours after eating contaminated food although symptoms can also appear in as little as six hours or take longer.

    Dr Kathie Grant, a botulinum toxin expert at the HPA, said: “Cases of botulism are thankfully very rare in the UK although it can be a very serious infection in those that are affected.

    “We urge the public not to consume these olives and immediately dispose of this product. It’s also important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of botulism, which include blurred vision, difficulty swallowing, headaches and muscle weakness.”

    Notes for editors:
    1. To find out more about the Food Alert for Action from the Food Standards Agency, visit:
    2. There are three different types of botulism:
      • Food-borne botulism - which is caused by eating food that has been contaminated with the botulinum toxin as a result of it being improperly canned or preserved.
      • Wound botulism – occurs when a wound becomes infected with botulinum spores which then germinate, reproduce and then produce toxins. This usually occurs when the tissue is damaged through injecting contaminated heroin or snorting contaminated cocaine.
      • Infant botulism – is very rare but can occur if a baby swallows some botulinum bacteria spores, which then produce toxins in their intestines. Infant botulism usually only affects babies who are less than 12 months old. After this, children develop a defence against the spores.
    3. The Health Protection Agency is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards. In April 2013, subject to the usual approvals procedures for establishing new bodies, the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. To find out more, visit our website:
    4. For more information please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 020 8327 7901 or email Out of hours the duty press officer can be contacted on 020 8200 4400.
    Last reviewed: 25 July 2012
    - --------