FDA Warns Consumers About Potentially Contaminated Olives

The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert Friday warning consumers that some canned and jarred imported olives may be contaminated with the bacteria that causes botulism, a potentially deadly illness.

No cases have been reported, but the FDA issued an urgent recall of olives manufactured and imported by Charlie Brown di Rutigliano & Figli S.r.l, of Bari, Italy.

The olives affected by the FDA recall are distributed and sold under the following brands: Borrelli, Bonta di Puglia, Cento, Corrado's, Dal Raccolto, Flora, Roland and Vantia, and have codes that start with the letter "G" and are followed by three or four digits. All sizes of cans, glass jars and pouches of Cerignola, Nocerella and Castelvetrano type olives are affected, the FDA said.

Charlie Brown di Rutigliano & Figli S.r.l, originally initiated a recall of the olives on March 27, the FDA said in a statement, but the agency decided Friday to issue its own urgent warning.

"The recalled olives had been distributed to wholesalers, who have marketed them nationally to restaurants and retail stores. FDA concluded that additional warnings are needed because, to date, the company has not contacted importers with specific instructions on the recall," the statement read.

Clostridium botulinum bacteria can cause botulism, a potentially fatal illness. Symptoms include general weakness, dizziness, double vision, trouble speaking or swallowing, difficulty in breathing, abdominal distension and constipation.

"People experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Consumers may also report illnesses associated with consumption of these olives to the nearest FDA district offices," the FDA said.

The olives should not be eaten alone or in other foods, even if they do not appear to be spoiled. Consumers should discard these products or return them to the point of purchase. If in doubt, consumers should contact the retailer and inquire whether its olives are part of the recall.

In addition to re-emphasizing its warning to consumers, FDA statement requested:

"Importers of these olives should discontinue distribution, isolate held stocks and notify customers to take similar actions to prevent the products from reaching consumers. Importers should contact their local FDA office for assistance in implementing the recall.

"Food manufacturers who have repacked the olives for sale under different names or who have used them in the production of other food should contact their local FDA office.

"Restaurants, delicatessens, and other food service providers should discontinue using the olives, dispose of their opened containers and contact their suppliers for instructions on what to do with unopened containers."

The FDA asked that consumers contact Charlie Brown Company at charliebrownbari@yahoo.com.