UPDATED: Foppen's 'grief' as two die from infected salmon

Dutch health agency said death toll could reach 17, with potentially 10,000 people being infected by now.

Two people in the Netherlands have died from eating salmonella-infected salmon produced by Dutch seafood company Foppen, according to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

RIVM toldIntraFish that 550 people have fallen ill from eating the salmon and 200 ended up in hospital. The number of people infected could be as high as 10,000, a spokesperson told IntraFish, as not everybody infected reports it.

"There's been a very exceptional and large outbreak, and we expect the next week that there is still a lot of cases to recover," said RIVM director Roel Coutinho told local media.

At least one of the deaths is confirmed to be linked to consuming smoked salmon infected by salmonella thompson, the spokesperson said, and there are strong suspicions that the other one is the same, though not proven as yet.

Foppen sent out a press release to the Dutch media on Oct. 13 expressing 'grief' at the news. It sent the press release to IntraFish too, and it underlines that these reports haven't been confirmed by Foppen as yet.

"[The news] reached Foppen Eel and Salmon through the media about a death occurring as a result of a salmonella infection... Foppen has not itself able to confirm it," the statement said. "The actual facts and circumstances [of the deaths] is not known us."

The company expressed grief at the news and said its "thoughts and feelings go out to those who are directly involved", and that it had "no further comment" out of respect for their feelings.

In early October, Foppen recalled 100,000 packages of smoked salmon from retail shelves in the Netherlands after being alerted to the contamination.

The recall spread to the United States, where warehouse club giant Costco was forced to pull private-label and Foppen brand product from its shelves and contact over 250,000 customers who had purchased the product. The infected salmon is being blamed for roughly 100 illnesses in the United States.

Based on mathematical models, RIVM estimates the number of deaths from the outbreak could reach 17.

The infectious salmon came from Foppen's operations in Greece.