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FDA Warns Salmonella Pistachios May Still Be On Shelves

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, June 24, 2009 6:19 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Pistachio Nuts, Foodborne Illness, Salmonella, FDA, Recall, Setton Foods, Food Safety

Pistachios contaminated with salmonella, may have been repackaged and sold despite an FDA recall.

Pistachio Recall Reissued



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ pistachios/ author: Scott Bauer, USDA 


It’s not unusual for travelers, running through an airport, to forgo an airport meal for a bag of nuts and some water. Better rethink the nuts. 

Apparently two brands of pistachio nuts that were part of a March FDA recall have been repackaged for airport and hotel sales.  Look for the labels,California Prime Produce and Orange County Orchards.  They are repackaged by Orca Distribution of Anaheim, California.  

The pistachio nuts came from Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, California which recalled its pistachios nationwide in March after salmonella was found in some samples. 

More than 600 foods contain pistachios from Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella including Harry and David, Shurfine, Sam’s Choice, and Archer Farms.  In-Room Plus and In-Room West issued a recall of pistachios found in hotel rooms in April. 

Setton International Food has been farming pistachios in California for twenty years. 

In March, a Setton Foods spokesman said the contamination likely came from raw nuts mixed with the roasted pistachios at the plant. Salmonella infections commonly result from eating food that has been contaminated by animal feces, but it is also caused by human feces. Setton assures consumers that is not the source of this contamination.

Salmonella is frequently the culprit behind food-borne illnesses. Symptoms of infection include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, and generally appear within 12 hours to 72 hours of eating tainted food. Infants, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the loophole in enforcement after it conducted a follow-up audit of Setton and found the company didn’t alert the public about the recall. 

"The company (Orca) did not publicly announce its recall. We are warning consumers not to eat these brands of pistachio," FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek said on Tuesday in a telephone interview with Reuters

An Orca spokesperson says the company has received no reports of illness from the 600 company’s products linked to the recall and that it replaced what product was out there at the time.

The FDA has enough personnel to conduct inspections of about 7,000 facilities annually. There are 150,000 food processing plants in the U.S. and the state often takes over the role of inspector.  

Salmonella contamination has affected everything from lettuce to sprouts, peppers, spinach, peanuts, and peanut butter in recent years.  Last year, salmonella Saintpaul was linked first to tomatoes, then to peppers.

The FDA received approval to broaden its regulatory authority last week when the U.S. House approved a proposal to allow the FDA to order recalls.  Previously, the company in question got to decide whether it wanted to voluntarily recall a contaminated product.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that foodborne illnesses kill about 5,000 Americans every year and sicken 76 million.   #   

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