As investigators get close to pinpointing the source of a pistachio contamination nationwide, they are focusing on a processing plant in New York which didn’t pass an inspection last month.
Setton International Foods of Commack, New York shares staff and manufacturing with Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella of California, the second-largest pistachio processor in the nation.
Last month, the New York facility was contaminated with rodent droppings and dead cockroaches.
The discovery of salmonella two weeks ago, resulted in the nationwide recall of 2 million pounds of pistachios. Unlike the peanut-salmonella outbreak earlier this year, this time Kraft Foods Inc. found the salmonella on its own after hiring private auditors.
There is no requirement for private industry to test the safety of its own products though there is pressure on the FDA to require food companies to conduct their own testing that would be overseen by the FDA.
"We're relying on companies to find the contaminated foods on their own, and since there's no national standards for this, some companies don't bother to test at all," said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., a critic of the nation's food safety system, tells the Associated Press. "What if these nuts had been distributed by a company that doesn't test? We wouldn't have found out until people got sick."
In this case, the contamination pistachios have not sickened anyone, while the Peanut Corporation of America salmonella contamination was responsible for 691 illnesses, 9 deaths and the recall of over 3,800 products. Reports of illness are still coming into the FDA. #