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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

UPDATE – Will Mr. Pistachio be sharing a Prison Cell with Mr. Peanut in what is becoming another “Nutgate”

Elizabeth Weise, of USA TODAY reported this morning that “Pistachios had tested positive for salmonella for [five] months” at the Setton facility in California while at the same time New York Department of Agriculture was finding rat feces and cockroaches at Setton’s New York plant.

Salmonella in nuts from Setton Pistachio was detected by one of the company’s food-manufacturing customers. When the Food and Drug Administration asked Setton officials if any of their own tests had come back positive for salmonella, the answer was yes, says David Acheson, FDA associate commissioner. "They told us, ‘We’ve had montevideo, newport, senftenberg and larochelle,’" Acheson says, meaning the earlier discovery of four strains of salmonella.

Now for Watergate/Nutgate:

"The question is, ‘Did Setton Farms have an ongoing problem, and what did they do about it?’ " Acheson says. The FDA believes batches of pistachios that tested positive for salmonella were destroyed, not distributed. Setton Pistachio spokeswoman Fabia D’Arienzo could not confirm that. No illnesses tied to the contamination have been confirmed, the FDA says. The agency is currently checking four salmonella cultures provided by Setton to see if they match bacteria in people who have become ill.

So, Setton knew for months that product from its California plant was testing positive for Salmonella – four strains no less – and its New York plant had rats and cockroaches? Now, what is this difference (other than the number of people sickened) with what happened at the Peanut Corporation of America? I think Mr. Peanut (a.k.a Mr. Parnell) needs to make room for Mr. Pistachio (a.k.a. Mr. Setton). I wonder if they will fight over who gets the top bunk?

UPDATE from AP:

Plant at center of recall had salmonella last year – Nuts from the California company tested positive in 2008, says sister plant
   
FRESNO, Calif. – A firm involved in a nationwide pistachio recall this week says nuts from its sister company in California tested positive for Salmonella in September 2008.

Lee Cohen, a production manager for Setton International Foods Inc. in Commack, N.Y., said Friday that Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc. first heard about the 2008 test from a customer, Kraft Foods Inc., on March 24. He says those tainted nuts were found in a snack mix.

Setton Pistachio recalled 2 million pounds of pistachios on Monday after a Kraft manufacturer found salmonella in another batch of roasted pistachios on March 20.

So, here are the questions that now need to be asked:

1.  New York Department of Agriculture – Why did you not shut down the Setton New York plant after finding feces and cockroaches?

2.  FDA – when did you first learn of potential Salmonella illnesses and/or Salmonella positive pistachio samples and from who?

3.  Kraft – when did you first learn of potential Salmonella illnesses and/or Salmonella positive pistachio samples and from who?

4.  Setton – when did you first learn of potential Salmonella illnesses and/or Salmonella positive pistachio samples and from who?

The plot thickens.  Someone is not telling the truth.

  • I wish the actual story was as funny as your title? Thanks for a late Friday afternoon chuckle.
    What do you think the chances are that Mr. Pistachio and the cast of characters surrounding this latest “Nutgate” outbreak will actually be asked the questions above? And who will be asking such questions?