Time to break out the salmonella-free peanuts and toss the pistachios. Breaking news from the FDA alerts us that, in tandem with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), it is investigating salmonella contamination in pistachio products sold by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc, the nation’s second-largest pistachio processor. The company has stopped all distribution of processed pistachios and will issue a voluntary recall involving approximately one million pounds of its products. Because the pistachios were used as ingredients in a variety of foods, it is likely this recall will impact many products. In addition, the investigation at the company is ongoing and may lead to additional pistachio product recalls.
The contamination involves multiple strains of salmonella, a bacteria which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Thus far, several illnesses have been reported by consumers that may be associated with the pistachios. It is not yet known whether any of the salmonella strains found in the pistachio products are linked to an outbreak. The FDA is conducting testing of the samples to pursue all links. The agency said it is working closely with the pistachio industry and recommends that consumers avoid eating pistachio products until further information is available about the scope of affected products.
According to news reports, the FDA first learned of the problem on March 24, when it was informed by Kraft Foods that its Back To Nature Trail Mix was found to be contaminated with salmonella. Kraft had identified the source of the contamination to be pistachios from Setton and conducted a recall.
To find out which products could be affected, check out the FDA’s searchable database at www.fda.gov.