Woman dies from olive poisoning: product recall follows

An elderly woman has died and another person remains in hospital in Finland after contracting a very rare form of food poisoning from organic Italian olives.

The woman succumbed to botulism, which attacks the nervous system and can cause respiratory failure, at the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital on Thursday night. Another member of the same household is still recovering from the illness.

The Finnish Food Safety Authority has asked citizens to check their cupboards for the almond-stuffed Gaudiano Bio olives, which were first imported to the country a year ago. They have been served in four Helsinki restaurants, the Raffaello, La Famiglia, Vantaa and Kolme Seppaa, and have been available for purchase in various Finnish supermarkets.

According to Veli-Jukka Anttila, head of the epidemiological unit at Helsinki University Central Hospital, botulism, which thrives in canned food due to the oxygen-starved environment, is rare but highly fatal.