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Hawaii Costco stores clear of tainted salmon

    Costco in Kapolei.

Costco stores in Hawaii have pulled smoked salmon, which Dutch health authorities believe is tainted with salmonella bacteria, from their shelves following an international recall that has seen hundreds of people in the Netherlands and the United States fall ill.

None of the tainted smoked salmon were sold at Costco’s seven stores in Hawaii.

Lance Wong, supervisor in Food and Drug branch of the state Department of Health’s Environmental Health section, said there have been no reports of salmonella infection here.

The Associated Press reported that the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said the salmon has been traced to the 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 in the Netherlands and more than 100 people in the United States have been sickened by a strain of the bacteria called Salmonella Thompson.

However, Costco, the company that sells the salmon in the U.S., said it has had no reports of illness due to the tainted salmon. Costco has four stores on Oahu and one each on Maui, Kauai and Hawaii.

Costco began its recall late Monday, said Tracy Mauldin-Avery, general merchandise manager at Costco Wholesale Corp. in Seattle.

Mauldin-Avery said Costco immediately pulled the items from shelves and blocked its sale in stores, meaning the products won’t scan at registers.

The smoked salmon was sold under the Foppen name, as well as under Costco’s store-brand name, Kirkland.

Customers who purchased the salmon will be called by the company to notify them of the recall. The calls will be followed up with a letter.

Mauldin-Avery said testing of the smoked salmon hasn’t yet turned up any positive results for salmonella.

Wong said the state health department did get one call this morning from a person who had heard about the recall.

He said his staff is checking to ensure that the products have been removed from Costco stores.

Foppen has halted all production of smoked salmon until the investigation is completed, the Associated Press reported.

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

Foppen spokesman Bart de Vries told the Associated Press 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.

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 underway 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."

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