Suffolk Coastal/Waveney: Hunt is on to find contaminated olives after national alert

FOOD safety experts are warning local food outlets and householders to be on the lookout for jars of contaminated olives.

The team from Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils is urging local retailers, restaurants, pubs and members of the public to remove any jars labelled as Olive Bella Di Cerignola.

It follows a warning from The Food Standards Agency (FSA) after someone in Britain was found to be recovering from C.botulinum poisoning after eating olives from a jar.

Mary Neale, Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet member for community health, said: “An important part of our food safety team’s duties is to be the local lead on national safety alerts.

“This is quite an unusual product which is not stocked by major food retailers but could be sold via specialist delicatessens or stalls at markets.

“We are calling all those outlets which we think might possibly stock this product and warning them to remove it from sale, but I would also call on people to check their cupboards in case they have brought a jar somewhere of this contaminated batch.”

Only one jar from the batch is confirmed as having been tested positive for the C.botulinum type B toxin but the national advice is that people should not eat from any of the jars as a sensible precaution.

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The product name on the label is Olive Bella Di Cerignola which is branded as DIVINI di Chicco Francesco.

It comes in a glass jar with a metal screw top lid, is lot number 161/11, weighs 580 grammes, has a best before date of 10/06/2014, and its country of origin is Italy.

Mary Rudd, Waveney’s portfolio holder for community health, continued: “We have been asked by the FSA to contact traders and withdraw any jars that are of the specific lot code and best before date. Any jars that we find will be kept for analysis.

“Our team has called all those potential stores that might have stocked the offending product, and none of them did, but it is of course still possible that some of our residents might have one of these jars of olives at home, so they too need to be vigilant.”

Foodborne botulism is a rare disease which sees spores growing in food before producing a very powerful neurotoxin which gets into the body when eaten.

The incubation period can be between a few hours to eight days but can result in disturbed vision, slurred speech, muscle weaknesses and breathing difficulties due to respiratory muscle paralysis. While it can be treated, recovery can take several weeks.

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