October 2, 2012 — Smoked salmon imported from the Netherlands and sold at Costco grocery stores is being blamed for an outbreak of salmonella food poisoning that has sickened hundreds of people and sparked major recalls. Health authorities in the Netherlands say at least 200 people have been sickened in the Netherlands, and around 100 people in the United States.
The Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment traced the outbreak to the Dutch company Foppen, which sells smoked salmon products in Europe and the U.S. The fish are processed in a facility in Greece, which has halted all production. Americans were the first to report illnesses to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
CDC officials have confirmed that between 50-85 cases of salmon salmonella food poisoning have occurred in the U.S. Officials at the CDC said they are still in the “very preliminary stages” of the investigation and they do not have statistics on the outbreak.
The grocery store chain Costco Wholesale Corp. sold the smoked salmon products in the U.S. After company officials were notified of the recall Monday afternoon, they immediately pulled smoked salmon products off store shelves. The company also has a system where recalled products cannot be sold at the register. Costco is also independently testing the products for salmonella, but so far, tests are still negative.
Salmonella food poisoning typically shows symptoms 12-72 hours after a contaminated food product is eaten. The first symptoms involve sudden diarrhea (which may be watery or bloody), followed by nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and abdominal cramps. These symptoms may last for up to seven days. Healthy adults typically recover without requiring hospitalization. However, the illness can be fatal for children, the elderly, and people who have a weak immune system (such as those undergoing cancer treatments).
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