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The Los Angeles Times this morning reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working overtime on the current pistachio contamination problem as it tries “to prevent a repeat of a recent salmonella outbreak from peanuts that has sickened more than 690 people in 46 states.”

According to the story, as supermarkets pulled the nuts off shelves and the FDA warned consumers not to eat pistachios because of concerns that they could be contaminated with salmonella, as it was revealed that three stains of salmonella had been detected in samples pulled from a plant operated by Kraft Foods and other manufacturers. The nut packer that recalled its products is Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc.

The Times also reports that the new salmonella scare has prompted the introduction of a bill in the California state legislature that “would require food processors to adopt detailed plans to ensure their products were safe, mandate periodic testing of food at California's food-processing facilities and tell companies to report to state authorities within 24 hours any positive test result for a dangerous contaminant.”

KC's View:
There have been some criticisms that the FDA is moving too fast on this one, and that it is creating panic by overreacting to the contamination of what is believed at this point to be a small number of nuts.

But I’m not sure FDA has any choice at this point. It would be foolish of it to ignore history, and the presence of pistachios in a wide number of foods – in much the same way that peanuts are in a lot of different foods – creates the possibility of broader problems and certainly raises questions about traceability and transparency.