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Smoked salmon blamed for salmonella outbreak in US, Netherlands

Smoked salmon tainted with salmonella has sparked a major recall in the Netherlands and the United States. Traced back to a Dutch company, the recalled smoked salmon is only available in the US through wholesaler Costco. 

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A woman fills her car with gas from Costco in Los Angeles, California, in this 2011 file photo. Smoked salmon sold at Costco in the US has been recalled due to salmonella contamination in the United States and the Netherlands.

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters/File

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Smoked salmon tainted with salmonella bacteria has sickened hundreds of people in the Netherlands and the United States, sparking a major recall, health authorities said Tuesday.

The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said the salmon has been traced to Dutch company Foppen, which sells fish to many major Dutch supermarkets and to stores around the world, including the United States.

The institute said in a statement that around 200 people — and likely more — in the Netherlands and more than 100 people in the United States have been sickened.

Foppen also estimated the number of infections was higher.

Company spokesman Bart de Vries said that since the company set up a public information phone line two days ago, some 1,400 people had called and around 350 of the callers "reported symptoms consistent with a salmonella infection."

Those infected by the salmonella bacteria can suffer symptoms including fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

De Vries said that in the United States the company sells only to wholesaler Costco and that Costco would deal with any U.S. recall. It was not immediately clear how much contaminated fish had been sold in America. A message left at Costco's headquarters before office hours was not immediately returned.

Roel Vincken of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, which carried out tests confirming the salmonella outbreak, said he had no information on a U.S. recall.

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De Vries said the company did not believe contaminated fish had been sold to any other countries.

Foppen, which processes fish in the Netherlands and at a factory in Greece, is investigating the cause of the outbreak.

"The investigation into the cause is under way and has been narrowed down to one production line at one factory (in Greece)," De Vries told The Associated Press. "We can't yet say what the cause of the infection was."

Foppen has halted all production of smoked salmon until the investigation is completed, he added.

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