Pistachio Salmonella Scare

April 7, 2009 7:55:12 PM PDT
Federal health officials confirmed Monday night they found traces of salmonella in pistachios processed at a South Valley plant. The discovery has prompted Setton Farms of Terra Bella to expand the voluntary recall of many of its products. Related Links: The FDA is still conducting tests trying to find the exact source of contamination ... But in the meantime they are asking the public to stay away from any products containing pistachios. The warning is having a very serious impact not only on Setton Farms but the entire pistachio industry.

Pistachios were pulled off store shelves ... And taken out of Easter Baskets at the Sierra Nut House. They say their products were safe, but wanted to give customers peace of mind.

Joanna Lundeberg said, "We pulled them just as a precaution ... so that everybody is confident with what we're selling here."

The Food and Drug Administration is asking everyone to be just as cautious ... After inspectors found traces of salmonella in nuts processed at Setton Farms. They also found areas at the Terra Bella facility where raw and roasted nuts could be cross contaminated.

Setton Farms is now voluntarily expanding its recall to include all lots of roasted in-shell pistachios, roasted shelled pistachios and raw shelled pistachios ... From its 2008 crop.

The impact of the recall is already being felt by California's nearly 600-million dollar a year pistachio industry.

Richard Matoian with the Western Pistachio Association said, "I can tell you right now there has been a slow down of shipments ... I can't put a dollar figure on it, but there has been a slowdown of shipments to stores."

To help lessen the blow ... The Western Pistachio Association has established a website that contains a list of companies and brands that claim not to use products from Setton Farms.

"The recall involves one single processor of product and does not involve the entire industry-- in fact the vast majority of products are clean. Everyone in the industry is being painted by this very broad brush-- and we believe that is unfortunate," said Matoian.

For a list of the products affected by the recall as well as a list of brands that do not contain pistachios from Setton Farms visit www.pistachiorecall.org.

Important to note that so far ... there have been no reports of illness from the pistachios.

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