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Raw Nuts Could Be Salmonella Source in Pistachios: Report
Date:3/31/2009

Calif. producer says they may have been mixed in during production process

TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- The salmonella contamination behind the recall of 1 million pounds of pistachios may have come from raw nuts involved in processing at a California plant, according to the company that produced the nuts.

Lee Cohen, production manager for Setton International Foods Inc. of Terra Bella, Calif., said Tuesday that the company suspects roasted pistachios sold to Kraft Foods may have become mixed at the plant with raw nuts that could have contained traces of the salmonella bacteria. Cohen ruled out a human or animal source of the contamination, the Associated Press reported.

Also Tuesday, Kraft expanded its recall to include any Planters and Back to Nature products that contain pistachios supplied by Setton since Sept. 1, the news service said.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials announced Monday night that the agency was investigating a salmonella contamination that could involve 1 million pounds of pistachios that were sold in at least 31 states.

The current contamination is not connected to the recent salmonella scare involving peanuts, the officials said. But they are recommending that people avoid eating any pistachio products.

"We are not dealing with an outbreak here," Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods at the FDA, said during a teleconference Monday evening. "This is a proactive move by the firm to recall contaminated product, and it is very distinctly not linked to an outbreak. This recall is being undertaken by sampling by part of the food industry."

The California Department of Public Health is also involved in the investigation.

Setton Farms was recalling certain pistachio nuts based on these findings, Acheson said. Investigators were honing in on pistachios packaged at the Terra Bella plant.

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