Salmonella rears its ugly head in California

Mar 31, 2009

Bad news for pistachio farmers, processors and consumers alike - yesterday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended that consumers avoid eating pistachios and products made from pistachios because of reports of Salmonella contamination. The story was reported in numerous media outlets, including US News & World Report.

The contamination came to light when Kraft Foods "Back to Nature" trail mix was found to be tainted with Salmonella. Kraft traced the contamination to Setton Pistachio in Terra Bella, Calif. The company immediately stopped distributing pistachios and is recalling about 1 million pounds of roasted in-shell nuts, according to an FDA news release.

Also yesterday, the Sacramento Bee reported that state and federal health officials are investigating a Bay Area company whose spice products have been linked to a recent outbreak of Salmonella in 15 California counties. Bee writers Niesha Lofing and Darrell Smith spoke to UC Davis Cooperative Extension food safety specialist Linda Harris about the recent spate of Salmonella scares. She said Salmonella bacteria can survive in dry goods such as spices and dog treats

"It's true that to multiply, (bacteria) need warmth and moisture and nutrients," Harris was quoted. "But what most people don't recognize is when you don't have enough moisture, bacteria can survive. … Salmonella is well-known for surviving in dry foods."

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist