News Flash: Every Plant Handling Raw Pistachios Has
Salmonella! (But Roasting Kills The Pathogen)
of Article: http://www.perishablepundit.com/
Sometimes short-and-sweet can be very
revealing. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira
Slott to find out what role the State of California is playing in regard
to the investigation of Setton Pistachio:
California Department of
Q: When I called the California
Department of Agriculture, a spokesperson said FDA and California
Department of Health have jurisdiction on this investigation but the
California Department of Agriculture does not. Is the state government
conducting an investigation of the farms that supplied the raw product to
A: Concerning farms, one can always
assume there will be salmonella in the environment. Pistachios are not
eaten raw. They are to be roasted and prepared for consumption. So when
Setton is selling the raw nuts in the shell, it is selling them to
someone who is then going to roast them and put them into products for consumption.
That roasting process gets rid of the salmonella that could be occurring.
This is why farms are not being investigated.
The problem at Setton that has been
brought out by FDA is the possible comingling of raw and finished product
resulting in contamination. That’s why FDA is not going back to the
farms. That’s why the recall does not include Setton’s raw in-shell
products that are being shipped for further roasting.
Q: FDA says it has found salmonella in
critical areas at the Setton facilities. Has the California Department of
Public Health done its own tests? If so, what are the results?
A: Laboratory analysis has been
partially completed by FDA laboratories and salmonella has been
positively identified in the environmental samples and the finished
product samples, which we collected from Setton in its facilities. More
detailed analysis for genetic identification is pending.
We thank Ralph Montano and the
California Department of Public Health for working to keep the industry
and the public informed about the status of the investigation. This brief
interview brings up three very important points:
are expected in fields and, with pistachios, roasting is expected to kill
them. Unlike in the spinach outbreak, where
an enormous investigation was conducted in an attempt to ascertain how
the pathogen — in that case E. coli 0157:H7 — got in the field, in this
case the State isn’t even bothering to attempt to find that out because
it doesn’t matter.
2) This means
that the finding of salmonella in the plant is of no consequence.
It is expected that there will be salmonella on the raw nuts and, as
such, in a factory having raw nuts.
identification has not, at least as of yet, tied the salmonella found in
the plant to the salmonella supposedly found in the pistachios at Georgia
Nut Company. This answers the question we asked here,
which was why the FDA was leaking information to favored reporters rather
than holding conference calls and issuing press releases.
Now we know the
answer: FDA played the AP like a flute getting them to report “news” that
Salmonella was found in the plant when that news is irrelevant.
Salmonella is expected to be found in every plant handling raw
pistachios, and no genetic identification has been made that the
salmonella found in the plant is connected to the salmonella alleged to
have been on pistachios at Georgia Nut Company.
One broader question: Does the
acceptance of pathogens in raw products that will be further processed
with a “kill step” increase their prevalence in the environment and make
it more likely that products sold to be eaten raw — like leafy greens —
will become contaminated?