FDA: Don't eat
By Robert Miller
Posted: 03/31/2009 08:05:39 PM EDT
Source of Article: http://www.newstimes.com/ci_12039800
DANBURY -- At Hanna's
Mideastern Restaurant and Market on Lake Avenue, pistachio addicts can
choose: There's a glass canister filled with pistachios from Turkey,
another with nuts from California.
Lately, store owner John
Hanna said, the imports from Turkey have been his customers' favorites.
better,'' he said Tuesday.
But for the next few
days, taste won't be the only consideration steering people away from the
California varieties. The fear those home-grown nuts may be contaminated
with salmonella should make people very wary of cracking their shells.
On Monday, the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration and the California Department of Health announced
they were pulling two million pounds of pistachios grown by Setton
International Foods of Terra Bella, Calif., off shelves because the nuts
may be contaminated with multiple strains of salmonella.
Setton is the
second-largest producer of pistachios in the U.S.
pistachios were used as ingredients in a variety of foods, it is likely
this recall will impact many products,'' the FDA said in a press statement.
The agency said it
"recommends that consumers avoid eating pistachio products until
further information is available about the scope of affected products.''
The agency learned of the
problem March 24, when Kraft Foods discovered its Back To Nature Trail Mix
was contaminated with salmonella. Kraft then identified pistachios grown
and sold by Setton as the source of the contamination.
Setton sells in-shell
pistachios to wholesalers in bags weighing between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds.
Different companies resell the pistachios under different names.
Setton also sells 9-ounce
bags of Setton Farms pistachios as a retail product in seven Southern
spokeswoman for the state Department of Consumer Protection, said Tuesday
the state is now working with the FDA to learn whether any of these
pistachios are sold in Connecticut.
Both the Stop &
Shop chain and Stew Leonard's market said they were letting shoppers be
guided by the FDA announcement, rather than taking products off their
"We haven't been
informed whether our supplier is one of the ones,'' said Alvin Adams, store
manager at Stew Leonard's.
Faith Weiner, spokeswoman
for Stop & Shop, whose corporate headquarters is in Quincy, Mass.,
said the store is now searching to see whether any of its vendors use nuts
from Setton, as well as monitoring further news from the FDA.
"It's too soon to
tell,'' she said.
Salmonella is a group of
bacteria found in the intestines of animals, including humans.
Contamination usually results when animal feces containing the bacteria
come in contact with food.
In recent months,
salmonella and another bacteria, E. coli, have contaminated food that
people eat regularly in the U.S. A salmonella contamination of peanuts and
peanut butter has sickened nearly 700 people.
Dr. Joseph Fiorito, chief
of gastroenterology at Danbury Hospital, said in most cases people who eat
food contaminated with salmonella develop diarrhea. Some will also get
nausea and vomiting, others fever and chills.
Almost all people recover
after a few days, Fiorito said. But in perhaps 5 percent of cases,
salmonella becomes a serious illness when the bacteria gets into the
The people most at risk
from salmonella are the elderly, infants, and people with compromised
immune systems. People taking antacids or antibiotics may also be more at
risk, he said.
Fiorito said the several
cases of E. coli and salmonella have shown the U.S. system of spreading the
word about contamination works well.
"We're so much
better than we used to be at picking them up and spreading information
about them,'' he said. "Now there should be more pressure on the
government to try and prevent them.''