U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) are investigating salmonella contamination in pistachio products sold by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc., Calif. FDA recommends that consumers avoid eating pistachio products until more information is available about the scope of affected products.
Setton Pistachio has stopped all distribution of processed pistachios and has announced a voluntary recall involving approximately 1 million pounds of its products. Because the pistachios were used as ingredients in a variety of foods, this recall is impacting 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 type of bacteria that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, according to the FDA.
Consumers have reported several illnesses 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. FDA is conducting genetic testing of the samples to pursue all links.
FDA 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.
FDA provides information aout affected products at www.fda.gov/pistachios/ and will continue to update the public. It is working with the pistachio industry to help it understand the risks salmonella poses and the importance of taking precautions to keep their product free of contamination. On April 3, FDA sent a letter to all known pistachio processors in the U.S. reminding them of their legal responsibility to ensure that the products they are providing are safe for consumption and spelling out many of the manufacturing practices that must be met by anyone manufacturing, packaging or holding human food in interstate commerce. FDA is working to identify and address practices that may lead to contamination by bacteria, and to issue guidance to the industry that provides additional information about measures that can be taken to prevent salmonella contamination.