Traces of Salmonella Found in California Plant

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Federal officials confirmed Monday they
found traces of salmonella in a central California pistachio
processing plant that sparked a nationwide recall of the nut.

The Food and Drug Administration said state and federal
inspectors discovered the bacteria in "critical areas" at Setton
Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc., the second-largest pistachio
processor in the nation.

FDA officials also said they found places at the facility where
raw and roasted nuts could have become cross-contaminated with

Setton Pistachio, which sells its nuts to Kraft Foods Inc. and
35 other wholesalers across the country, temporarily shut down
after voluntarily recalling more than 2 million pounds of nuts last

The company expanded its recall of pistachios on Monday to
include all roasted, shelled pistachios, roasted in-shell
pistachios and raw shelled pistachios from its 2008 crop.

"The company is working closely with the FDA on this matter and
is cooperating fully," Setton spokeswoman Fabia D'Arienzo said in
a statement. "Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc. is committed
to quality products and consumer safety, and is taking aggressive
action to prevent the need for any future recalls."

Federal regulators say consumers should avoid eating pistachios
or foods made with the nuts until they can determine that they
don't contain any nuts that Setton has recalled. The FDA on Monday
also advised wholesalers, retailers, and operators of restaurants
and food service establishments against selling or serving any
pistachios or pistachio products until they can figure out whether
they came from Setton.

No illnesses from consumers eating tainted pistachios have been

The contamination was discovered by a Kraft manufacturer in
Illinois, where workers doing routine testing found the bacteria in
roasted pistachios about to go into trail mix. Officials traced the
source back to the Terra Bella plant that supplied the nuts.

Pistachios are used in everything from ice cream to cake mixes,
and the FDA believes more recalls are imminent.

Salmonella, the most common cause of food-borne illness, causes
diarrhea, fever and cramping. Most people recover, but the
infection can be life-threatening for children, the elderly and
people with weakened immune systems.

Roasting is supposed to kill the bacteria in nuts. But problems
can occur if the roasting is not done correctly or if roasted nuts
are re-contaminated.

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