Raw nuts may be source of pistachio contamination
Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
4/03/2009-According to a USA Today article, the Salmonella contamination of pistachios at Calif.-based Setton Pistachio may have occurred when contaminated raw nuts got mixed with roasted nuts during processing. Kraft spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati said her company¡¯s auditors ¡°observed employee practices where raw and roasted nuts were not adequately segregated and that could explain the sporadic contamination.¡± Roasting is supposed to kill the bacteria; however if it is done wrong if could be re-contaminated.
The Food and Drug Administration
learned about the Salmonella when Kraft Foods Inc. notified the agency
that routine product tested had detected the bacteria in roasted pistachios.
Setton is now voluntarily recalling more two million lbs of its roasted
pistachios, and has shut down the plant. The plant¡¯s products were shipped
to 36 wholesalers, but it is unclear what those wholesalers did with the
product?whether they were repackaged for consumers or whether they were
sold to manufacturers.
pistachio recall shows how FDA should work, claim officials
By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 31-Mar-2009
Recall could expand
Awaiting test results
The plant chose to close last week, officials said, prior to which it sold pistachios to 36 wholesalers in 1,000lb to 2,000lb quantities.
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 containers.¡±
Pistachio Salmonella Food Poisoning
Scare Widens Recall
April 3rd, 2009
Following a pistachio recall issued for about one million pounds of nuts, more than 77 products sold under 21 brand names have been recalled and the FDA has warned consumers to stop eating any products that contain pistachio, as they may cause salmonella food poisoning.
The pistachio recall was first announced on March 31, 2009, involving all nuts processed by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc. at a plant in California. The nuts, both inshell and shelled pistachios, were mainly distributed in bulk bags to other manufacturers who used them in a variety of different products.
The salmonella contamination was found by Kraft in some of their ¡°Back to Nature¡± Trail Mix during routine testing procedures.
Although there have been no reported illnesses linked to the pistachio nuts, concerns about salmonella food poisoning have resulted in the FDA urging consumers to refrain from eating all pistachio, since the scope of the distribution of the nuts is not fully known at this time.
So far, around 77 different products sold under brand names like Frito-Lay, Fisher, Planters and Kraft, have been recalled, including standalone pistachio nuts, mixed nuts, trail mixes and other products containing pistachio nut, including cakes and ice creams.
Health officials have taken prompt actions to notify the public about the potential risks associated with the pistachios after a recent peanut butter salmonella outbreak resulted in hundreds of reported cases of food poisoning and led to the recall of nearly 4,000 products which received their peanuts from the same processing plant.
The FDA has established a website with updated information about the products involved in the recall at http://www.fda.gov/pistachios/.
While all of the recalled pistachios were processed at a plant in central California, the FDA has indicated that they are also looking into issues at a plant ini New York which is owned by the same parent company and shares certain staff with the California plant. Inspectors found cockroaches and rodent droppings during a visit to the New York plant last month.
Kraft At Crux
Of Pistachio Recall; Hasn¡¯t Fully Audited Supplier In Almost Four Years
Q: How did Kraft identify the source of the contamination to be pistachios from Setton Pistachio?
A: During the testing of ingredients, the external manufacturer, Georgia Nut Company, discovered there was a small potential for Salmonella in a batch of pistachios supplied by Setton. Georgia Nut informed us that a spot test revealed Salmonella. They notified Kraft and together we contacted FDA.
We¡¯re proud of the comprehensive programs we have in place. Our quality control systems were effective in this instance.
Q: Did Kraft conduct its own independent testing to confirm these results?
A: We dispatched our own auditors out to Setton Pistachio. They were there for several days.
Q: What did Kraft learn during the audit?
A: We did our own observations and testing at Setton facilities¡¦ lots of environmental testing, ingredient and product testing. Auditors went over the entire facility to be sure food safety systems were in place. Kraft did a comprehensive audit.
Q: Did Kraft find Salmonella contamination in its testing at the Setton plant? Were you able to link the four Salmonella serotypes found during the Georgia Nut testing to the Setton facilities?
A: Georgia Nut Company discovered the Salmonella. I¡¯m not sure what Kraft¡¯s test results revealed. In their testing, Georgia Nut found Salmonella, called Kraft and then reached out to Setton, the supplier.
In my understanding of how product testing for pathogens works, you could have a whole batch of nuts and one little spot test comes back positive for Salmonella and the rest of the batch could be fine.
Q: How does Kraft know definitively that the contamination occurred at the Setton plant and not some time after it left the facility?
A: At Setton Pistachio, our auditors observed situations where raw and roasted pistachios were not properly segregated. This could explain the sporadic contamination. We saw raw and roasted product processed on the same line without proper sanitation in between the raw and the roasted products. It wasn¡¯t up to what we would want them to do.
Then the FDA did their own investigation and also determined potential risk for contamination.
Q: If March was the first time samples from Setton product came back positive for Salmonella, why are products from months earlier being recalled? And why is FDA telling consumers not to eat any pistachios period?
A: Setton Pistachio is not the only supplier out there, and not every code date is affected. We wanted to move as quickly as possible to remove any potentially contaminated product from store shelves. We didn¡¯t want to take any risks.
Q: Does Kraft conduct routine audits of its suppliers? Why wasn¡¯t Setton Pistachio operating up to Kraft¡¯s food safety standards?
A: We regularly do audits and conduct testing. We do audit our manufacturers and their suppliers. We share with them what processes we would like them to implement in their plants.
Q: So to clarify, Kraft did do audits of the Setton plant before this most recent visit?
A: We conducted a full audit of the Setton plant in December 2005, and visited the plant in December 2008 for a technical audit.
It¡¯s important to know an inspection is a one-point-in-time event. What becomes critical is consistent food safety processes in place during the manufacturing at all times.
Audits do not guarantee food safety. What makes it safer is larger protocols in place and comprehensive checks to insure the food safety system is working. We¡¯ll be evaluating frequency of audits.
We have an audit program to verify compliance. We require an external manufacturer to have a food safety plan in place; none is perfect, but when we have a situation like this we review it and learn how we can do it better.
Q: Did Setton Pistachio supply raw or roasted product to Georgia Nut Company? In what form did it arrive?
A: Setton supplied bulk roasted shelled pistachios processed and ready to go into products Georgia Nut Company manufactures.
Q: Is Kraft working with Setton Pistachio to address the problems?
A: Setton Pistachio is very committed to resolving this, and is a very solidly managed company. They¡¯re not by any means trying to shirk any of their role in this. They want to get this right.
There is always a temptation to clam up at a time like this. So we appreciate very much that Adrienne Dimopoulos and Kraft Foods are trying to provide some needed transparency in this very murky subject. We note eight key points from the discussion:
1) ¡°We¡¯re proud of the comprehensive programs we have in place. Our quality control systems were effective in this instance.¡±
Actually we are not really
sure about that. So a test found one little spot of
2) ¡°I¡¯m not sure what Kraft¡¯s test results revealed.¡±
If Kraft¡¯s tests had shown positive results, it would have told the FDA, which would have included that in its statement. It is a safe bet that, so far, at least, no other confirmations have been found.
3) ¡°In my understanding of how product testing for pathogens works, you could have a whole batch of nuts and one little spot test comes back positive for Salmonella and the rest of the batch could be fine.¡±
We did a very thorough interview with Dr. Mansour Samadpour, an advocate for finished product testing. Much of it went to discussion of whether the testing was being done enough to be statistically meaningful. If, as Ms. Dimopoulos explains, one tiny spot on one pistachio could be positive while the thousands of pistachios surrounding that one are fine, how is it plausible that anyone is doing enough testing to get meaningful results? And if the results are not meaningful, isn¡¯t shutting down an industry a ridiculous overreaction?
4) ¡°At Setton Pistachio, our auditors observed situations where raw and roasted pistachios were not properly segregated. This could explain the sporadic contamination. We saw raw and roasted product processed on the same line without proper sanitation in between the raw and the roasted products. It wasn¡¯t up to what we would want them to do.
Then the FDA did their own investigation and also determined potential risk for contamination.¡±
This is a little unfair. Finding a plausible route for contamination is neither proof nor evidence that the contamination occurred that way. Perhaps it ¡°could explain¡± something but it doesn¡¯t preclude alternative explanations.
5) ¡°Setton Pistachio is not the only supplier out there, and not every code date is affected. We wanted to move as quickly as possible to remove any potentially contaminated product from store shelves. We didn¡¯t want to take any risks.¡±
Kraft is not responsible for the decisions of the FDA. But the FDA did not simply choose to pressure this one supplier for a recall; it decided to issue a recommendation not to consume. It intentionally did not choose to exonerate states such as Arizona and New Mexico ? as it did with tomatoes in the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak this summer.
It also didn¡¯t distinguish between processed products, where consumers might have trouble identifying the source of the pistachios, and jars or bags of pistachios that are easy to identify.
Finally it is treating a finding by one producer as statistically meaningful, when it is not.
We also question the FDA¡¯s reliance on a private company in this matter. Who is to say that a private citizen with a grudge couldn¡¯t one day implicate a person or company with the goal of ruining the company or a whole industry?
6) ¡°We conducted a full audit of the Setton plant in December 2005, and visited the plant in December 2008 for a technical audit.¡±
Gadzooks! 2005 for the last full audit?? Even the companies that have great reputations for food safety, such as Kraft, really don¡¯t do the job. Three-plus years is an eternity in the life of a factory.
7) ¡°It¡¯s important to know an inspection is a one-point-in-time event. What becomes critical is consistent food safety processes in place during the manufacturing at all times.
Audits do not guarantee food safety. What makes it safer is larger protocols in place and comprehensive checks to insure the food safety system is working. We¡¯ll be evaluating frequency of audits.¡±
Bottom line: If one wants ¡°consistent food safety processes in place during¡¦all times¡± and ¡°larger protocols in place and comprehensive checks,¡± one probably needs a comprehensive audit more frequently than every three years ? and who knows when Kraft would have come back were it not for this situation.
We thank Adrienne Dimopoulos and Kraft Foods for helping the trade to understand better what really has happened in this pistachio situation.
eat California-grown pistachios
Posted: 03/31/2009 08:05:39
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.
"They taste 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.
"Because the 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 states.
Claudette Carveth, 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 shelves.
"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 bloodstream.
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.''
NSF announces 2009 Food Safety Leadership Awards winners
Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml
4/06/2009-NSF International, a not-for-profit public health and safety organization, has announced the 2009 recipients of the sixth annual Food Safety Leadership Awards. This award recognizes influential individuals that have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the food industry. The winners will be announced at the 2009 Food Safety Summit¡¯s opening night reception on April 27, 2009. Nominations for the awards for reviewed by an independent panel of experts in the food industry. This year, NSF presents a lifetime achievement award, one award in the education and training category, and four in the system improvement category.
Lifetime Achievement Award
in Packaging and Distribution
Awarded in Education &
Awarded for Systems Improvement,
Awarded for Systems Improvement,
Awarded for Systems Improvement
Awarded for Systems Improvement
majority of Americans feel industry doesn¡¯t do enough
On the heels of the largest product recall in U.S. history, an ASQ survey reveals that although the majority of the food industry may be following safe production procedures, the majority of the public doesn¡¯t feel it does enough.
Food safety is still igniting
widespread concern according to the survey of U.S. adults conducted by
Harris Interactive¢ç on behalf of ASQ. ASQ conducted the survey to gauge
how consumers feel about food safety, food recalls and where responsibility
lies when it comes to tainted food. The survey finds:
- Government¡¯s Role in Food
use addressed by U.S.D.A., academics
The April 2-3 conference, "Minimizing Antibiotic Resistance Transmission Through the Food Chain," was jointly sponsored by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Ohio State University Extension, and Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center. Leading the conference, in addition to Dr. Wang, were Dr. John N. Sofos, Center for Meat Safety and Quality, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, and Dr. Thaddeus B. Stanton, of USDA¡¯s Agricultural Research Service, Ames, Iowa.
Dr. Wang said in the last couple of decades, an intensive discussion on the correlation between the use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine, food animal production, agriculture applications and the development of resistance in human pathogens has been a hot topic in science which has led to several government policy changes in both the E.U. and the U.S. "The problem of antibiotic resistance still exists," she said.
Speakers at the conference noted bacteria and other microorganisms causing infections are remarkably resilient and can develop ways to survive drugs meant to weaken them. This antibiotic resistance is due largely to the increasing use of antibiotics, although several speakers noted the problem is complex and can¡¯t be tied simply to this use. Speakers pointed out that that food-producing animals are given antibiotic drugs for important therapeutic, disease prevention or production reasons. However, these drugs can cause microbes to become resistant to medications used to treat human illnesses, ultimately making some human sicknesses more difficult to treat.
Does this mean antibiotic use in agriculture should be curtailed? That was the question addressed by keynote speaker Dr. Abigail Salyers, from the Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois. She said even though antibiotics are usually used at very low concentrations in agriculture, they can still select for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
"The resistant bacteria then enter the food supply. A potential hazard of consuming such food is that resistant bacterial pathogens such as Salmonella typhinurium can cause disease," she said. "Another potential hazard seldom considered but probably more serious is the transfer of resistance genes from bacteria passing through the human intestinal tract to bacteria normally occupying that site. Such bacteria are common causes of post-surgical infections." There is not yet enough data to enable scientists to quantify the risks associated with such scenarios, but there is evidence such scenarios are possible, she added.
In speaking about antibiotic resistance in meats and other foods, Dr. Sofos pointed out antimicrobials find numerous beneficial applications in human, animal and plant health, as well as in food production. Their selective pressure, however, may lead to the emergence of resistant pathogen strains.
"Therefore, it is important to maintain the ability of pathogens to be affected by antimicrobials," he said. "The best approach to minimizing antibiotic resistance negative impact is through risk assessments. Major recommendations for control include prevention of disease; use of antibiotics of lesser importance to human medicine, and treatment with alternative methods, including vaccines."
Dr. Sofos noted in tracking resistance of Salmonella to antibiotics in eight beef plants, resistance occurred mostly on cattle hides, but only a small amount of resistance to antibiotics existed on beef carcasses. "There was more resistance by the Campylobacter pathogen in poultry," he noted. "Research should also focus on the potential of antibiotics to enter animal production environments through waste streams."
E. coli O157:H7
Season is Nearly Upon Us ? Will it be 2005 and 2006 or 2007 and 2008?
Seasonality in humans:
Seasonality in ruminants:
Hypotheses on why there are seasonal differences in prevalence in both humans and cattle
- Speculation that temperature
may affect shedding or survival in feces (warmer months promoting survival
and/or growth of E. coli O157:H7).
Fuel Chemical Found in Baby Formula
ATLANTA ? Traces of a chemical
used in rocket fuel were found in samples of powdered baby formula, and
could exceed what's considered a safe dose for adults if mixed with water
also contaminated with the ingredient, a government study has found.
as 'Rodney Dangerfield' of food safety
cites problems in food safety system
"We are in an emergency
situation today," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who chairs the House subcommittee.
She urged the working group to move quickly to propose reforms.
blamed for botulism in food
The company running the Castleberry's
plant when botulism toxin was found in its food products has filed suit
against the manufacturer of its sterilization equipment.
executive proposes food safety changes
"In other words, expand
U.S.D.A.¡¯s risk-based inspection system to include commodities that today
receive minimal inspection due to budget challenges at the F.D.A.,"
he said in testimony at a hearing before the House of Representative¡¯s
"What we propose ¡¦ is
to focus U.S.D.A. risk-based efforts against improving the safety of all
food commodities, particularly those commodities that are consumed in
the raw state or those that are cooked or pasteurized and eaten without
a further microbial inactivation step, e.g. peanuts, almonds, cooked chicken,"
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was notified by Kraft Foods on March 24 that it had pistachios infected by salmonella. A week later, the American public heard about it and more than 2 million pounds of nuts were recalled. Today, coast-to-coast, it's hard to find a single package of pistachios in the stores.
The good news is that so far, no one has gotten sick. But the pistachio recall, like the peanut recall earlier this year, shows that the nation's food safety could be better. Under current law, Kraft was not required to notify the FDA about the pistachios. It's possible for companies to hide findings from state and federal officials, as Peanut Corp. of America did.
This time, a voluntary notice led to the roasted pistachios from Setton Pistachio of Terra Bell Inc. being recalled. Rather than wait for individuals or hospitals to report illness, the FDA was more aggressive and ordered a broad recall. According to the California Pistachio Board, the state supplies 99.9 percent of all U.S. pistachios.
About 76 million Americans a year are sickened by food-borne disease. About 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die. Food-borne illnesses cost $44 billion a year.
The Department of Health and Human Services is applying laws that date to 1906 and 1938, with no system to coordinate them with advanced technologies and practices. Another problem is funding and staffing. The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that the turnover rate in the FDA science staff is twice that of any other government agency. The inspection of imported food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, which account for 60 percent of the total, and seafood, of which 75 percent is imported, is spotty. Only 1 percent of all imported foods is currently inspected.
California Assemblyman Mike Feuer responded to the pistachio recall by pushing state legislation that would require regular tests at all California food processing plants and would mandate reporting of any contamination within 24 hours. In addition, plants will have to submit a plan to prevent contamination.
A non-profit think tank, Trust for America's Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just issued a report urging creation of a separate food safety administration within Health and Human Services, with a deputy commissioner who has authority over all food safety issues, and making other recommendations.
Copyright (C). All rights reserved FoodHACCP.com.