Contaminated Nuts Cause FDA Investigation

Salmonella lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that, in response to several recent recalls of nuts tainted with salmonella, the FDA recently opened an investigation into the contaminations, as the pathogen is not common in low-moisture foods such as tree nuts.

Within the past week (July 11-July 15, 2013), two companies have issued recalls due to salmonella-tainted pistachios. The companies, Western Mixers Inc. and Torn & Glasser Inc., were both subjected to a Class I recall, which is the most severe classification, intended only for food and drugs that have the potential to cause very serious bodily injury or harm.

Western Mixers Produce & Nut Company is based in Los Angeles, California. Its products included in the recall are labeled as ARO and/or Treasured Harvest Pistachios, in 6-, 12-, and 28-ounce packages. Torn & Glasser, also based in LA, is recalling its products sold under the following labels: Hilo, Sun Harvest, Sprouts, and Torn & Glasser. Full descriptions of the recalled products may be found here.

In response to these latest contaminations as well as salmonella scares in 2009 and 2012, the FDA is now opening an investigation as to why salmonella is repeatedly contaminating pistachios, almonds, and cashews. In a statement, the agency said that these outbreaks emphasize the need to further assess the risk of salmonellosis in tree nuts intended for human consumption, as well as to evaluate adequate preventative controls.

Salmonella is actually the most common foodborne illness in the country (about 42,000 cases a year), though it normally affects high-moisture foods, such as herbs and produce. The contaminant is often passed from the feces of chickens or other farm animals, spreading through water used to irrigate produce. In healthy individuals, salmonellosis can lead to fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.

The infection can be fatal, however, in young children, the frail or elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, such as cancer and AIDs patients. In rare case, salmonellosis can infect the bloodstream and produce much more severe illnesses, such as arterial infections (also known as infected aneurysms), arthritis, urinary tract infections, eye irritation, and endocarditis.

Consumers who know they have purchased Western Mixers or Torn & Glasser pistachios are urged to throw away the product and return it to where it was purchased for a full refund. Customers may contact Western Mixers at 1.877.230.8449, and Torn & Glasser at 1.800.282.6887.

Small amounts of salmonella may grow in low-moisture foods because of the nature of the cultivation and harvesting process. There were major outbreaks of salmonella in peanut butter in 2007 and 2009, leading to much outcry in the food industry. The most recent pistachio and other tree nut contaminations, however, are not yet fully understood. The FDA is currently requesting that those in the industry, along with consumer groups and other experts, provide the agency with scientific and medical data concerning the risk assessment.

Earlier this month, on July 12, 2013, Olde Thompson Inc, of Oxnard, California recalled its Organic Oregano packaged under the Earth’s Pride Organics label. The product was contained in a 2.2 oz glass jar with a cork closure, and was recalled due to potential salmonella contamination. Consumers who purchased this oregano should throw away to product as well as its container. The contamination was discovered during routine sampling of raw oregano materials at the California Olde Thompson plant.

About 400 Americans die each year from salmonella contamination, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is partly because food contaminated with the bacteria may not look or smell tainted or spoiled at all.

Salmonella lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience working with victims of contaminated food and their families. If you or a loved one was seriously sickened or killed by contaminated food or drugs, you have important legal rights, and you may be entitled to significant compensation for your medical bills, time off work, or wrongful death.

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