recall shows how FDA should work, claim officials
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/US-wide-pistachio-recall-shows-how-FDA-should-work-claim-officials
By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 31-Mar-2009
A Californian company is recalling
over a million pounds of pistachios distributed nationwide due to
possible salmonella contamination.
Even as the massive salmonella
outbreak linked to peanut products continues, the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has said that central-Californian based pistachio
processor Setton Farms has voluntarily recalled its entire 2008
pistachio crop due to an unrelated salmonella contamination.
However, health officials have stressed that
this is how the food safety net should work: By recalling products to
prevent an illness outbreak, rather than reacting after an illness has
FDA associate commissioner for foods David
Acheson told reporters in a conference call: “This recall was not
triggered because of an outbreak, in contrast to the peanut butter.
This is an example of the FDA getting out ahead of the curve.”
It is not yet clear how the pistachios
came to be contaminated as they were roasted, which should kill
salmonella. Officials have speculated that there could have been
cross-contamination from raw pistachios at the plant.
Recall could expand
The FDA learned of the salmonella on March 24,
when four different strains were discovered through routine tests
carried out by Kraft Foods, leading to a voluntary recall of its Nature
Nantucket trail mix.
A second recall linked to the plant came on
Friday when the Cincinnati-based Kroger supermarket chain withdrew its
own-brand pistachios. However, other pistachio-containing products such
as cookie dough, confectionery and ice-cream could be affected by the
recall, according to Jeff Farrar, chief of the food branch at the
California Department of Health, which is working with the FDA in its
Awaiting test results
At this stage there is no indication that the
product recall is linked to any incidence of illness, but FDA test
results on Setton Farm’s pistachios are expected in the next day or
two, after which health authorities hope to know within a week whether
there are matching strains on the Centers for Disease Control and
The plant chose to close last week, officials
said, prior to which it sold pistachios to 36 wholesalers in 1,000lb to
Acheson said: “The number of products that
are going to be recalled over the coming days will grow, simply because
these pistachio nuts have then been repackaged into consumer-level
For now, the FDA is advising consumers to
avoid eating pistachios and pistachio-containing products, but not to
throw them out. It has also announced the launch of an interactive
website of the same kind used during the peanut product recall which it
said will become live once more information is available.
“We will be working closely with industry to
try and get our arms around this as quickly as possible,” said Acheson.
Two people have contacted the FDA complaining
of gastrointestinal illness that could have been caused by pistachios,
but a link has not been confirmed.