When salmonella bacteria tainted peanuts products last year, the country discovered how quickly and widely the U.S. fragmented food inspection system allows contaminated food to spread.
Now comes word, in an unrelated contamination, that about two million pounds of pistachio nuts, possibly contaminated with salmonella, are being recalled.
Consumers are being asked by the Food and Drug Administration to avoid all pistachio products in an abundance of caution.
The warning comes after several illnesses have been reported, and epidemiologists are trying to link the type of salmonella that sickened people to the type of salmonella found in contaminated pistachio nuts and products.
Salmonella poisoning can resemble the flu, with stomach cramps, diarrhea, body shakes and vomiting.
Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc. California, the second largest pistachio processor, learned late last year that contaminated nuts were shipped on or after September 1, 2008.
The company tells the San Jose Mercury News that it suspects some contaminated nuts may have been mixed in with raw nuts during processing.
Kraft plans to recall more products under the Back to Nature brands and Planters, all supplied by Setton, which also provides the nuts to Wal-Mart and Sam’s Choice private brand.
Setton has its own line of Setton Farms brand pistachios. Look for the recalled lot to contain the dates “Best Before” January 6, 2010 and January 19, 2010.
Kroger has recalled its Private Selection shelled pistachios as has Supervalu Inc, owner of Albertsons, Jewel-Osco and other food chains.
Pistachios are eaten alone or used in desserts, baklava, or in ice cream. The FDA says expect to hear about more recalls in the coming days as food discovered to contain pistachios will be recalled.
The FDA will keep a data base with published food products that may be affected.
Setton reportedly shipped 2,000 pound bags of nuts to 36 distributors around the country.
Nuts That Are Okay
Diamond Brand cooking nuts and Emerald Brand snacking nuts say they do not buy pistachios from Setton. The companies do not believe their product is affected, nor does Walgreens and CVS Caremark.
Peanut Recalls Continue
Meanwhile peanut butter salmonella contamination cases are still being reported to the FDA, though the number of new cases has substantially declined since the peak in December, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .
So far 691 individuals from 46 states have reported becoming ill from salmonella, with its flu like symptoms and cramps. Ohio reports the most cases at 100 while Massachusetts had 48 cases and New York 34. #