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Company: Contaminated pistachios shipped to state

By Staff | Apr 1, 2009

Millions of pounds of roasted shell pistachios believed to have been exposed to salmonella are being voluntarily recalled by a California-based company in another round of food quality issues.
Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella announced Monday that it is recalling bulk shipments of pistachios in tote bags ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds. It is also pulling 9-ounce bags of roasted, salted pistachios from store shelves.
According to the company, the voluntary step is not related to recalls involving peanut butter products from months ago.
Contaminated loads of pistachios were shipped from the company on or after Sept. 1 and sent to locations across the United States, including Florida and Georgia.
According to a prepared statement from Setton, the recall was sparked after traces of salmonella were found in shipments of nuts handed over to a commercial carrier at the end of 2008.
The Lee County Health Department reported no instances of salmonella related to pistachios Monday.
“We have not had any cases of salmonella we have been able to link to any food product,” said Dr. Judith Hartner, director of the health department.
Wholesalers who purchase bulk containers with thousands of pounds of nuts either repackage them for distribution locally or use them for another product. Hartner said some of the nuts may have been repackaged and sold in Lee County.
“There is a potential for consumers to get these pistachios,” she said.
Salmonella is a bacterial infection resulting from microbial organisms living in human or animal feces. Patients who are exposed to the organism experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.
Symptoms are more severe and can be fatal for young children, the elderly and patients with a compromised immune system.
“If someone gets nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, for whatever reason, they should seek care from their physician,” said Hartner.
By law any physician who detects salmonella in a patient must report the case immediately to the county health department.
The Associated Press reported that contamination of nuts can result from incorrect roasting or from rodents soiling the holding facility.
According to Setton’s statement, this is the first time the company has conducted a recall in 13 years.
The company has a toll-free number for consumers to receive more information at (888) 228-3717. Full refunds are being offered for pistachio products suspected to be contaminated with salmonella.
The Florida Department of Health has enhanced its surveillance for identifying salmonella throughout the state. In February, the department reported identifying only one man who was sick with the strain of salmonella identified with the national peanut butter recall.
Officials state that the amount of recalled product could increase in the next few weeks as more contaminated items are identified.