Italian Gaudiano Organic Olives Stuffed with Almonds, tainted with botulinum toxin, resulted in the death of an elderly lady in Helsinki, Finland. Efood Alert
reported a family member who also shared the olives became ill and lab tests "confirmed that the jar from which the two persons in Finland had eaten the olives contained botulinum toxin, which affects the nervous system and causes respiratory failures if left untreated" (Arab News
The Finnish Food Safety Authority (EVIRA) has recalled the product from sale and the public have been notified of the danger.
The Italian olives have been exported to several other countries and according to Hs.fi the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has been notified. In addition to Finland the olives have been exported to the U.K., Germany, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries. An official in Saudi said
“A warning has already been posted on the website of Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) asking consumers in Saudi Arabia to take maximum precautions."
Olives which remain untainted by botulinum are one of the healthiest food choices to make and have a special place in the diets of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Olive virgins may not be aware that the actual fruit is bitter and inedible until it has been cured. One way to avoid the potential hazard of imported olives from Italy is of course to pickle