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Issue Date: Vol. 49, No.4, April 2009, Posted On: 4/3/2009


Peanut Recall Could Cost $1B; Salmonella Triggers Pistachio Recall

Vending, vending machine, peanut, peanuts, pistachios, salmonella, recall

Recall Could Cost Peanut Industry $1 Billion; Farmers, Industry Hit Back At Bad Publicity

The outbreak of foodborne illness tied to peanuts and peanut products could cost the U.S. peanut industry $1 billion, according to Tifton, GA-based Georgia Peanut Commission. The salmonella epidemic, which began in late 2008, has affected hundreds of companies and led to the recall of more than 3,200 products from crackers to ice cream. The government says 683 people in 46 states became ill after eating contaminated peanut products.

The commission's director, Don Koehler, told a House of Representatives small business committee that the industry is dealing with a situation of historical proportions that could result in total economic losses of $1 billion. "Rebuilding in the peanut industry cannot fully begin until the outbreak is over and the recall is complete," he said.

The outbreak is the latest food scare to pummel the U.S. food supply. Illnesses caused by tainted lettuce, peppers and spinach have raised concerns over food safety and renewed calls for change at the Food and Drug Administration. Congress is examining ways to do this, and President Obama has promised a thorough review of the agency.

Separately, members of the National Peanut Board set up shop in New York City's Grand Central Terminal on March 4 to kick off a national effort to rebuild consumer confidence in products made from the crops they grow.

Despite confirmation from the FDA of the vast array of peanut butter and peanut products that were not affected, many consumers, scared by the salmonella outbreak, have stopped purchasing peanut products altogether.

Manufacturers of some of the many products unaffected by the recall – including Mars Snackfood US, the new peanut MoonPie, Planters and Snyder's of Hanover – joined the farmers in the terminal, where they handed out samples of their products and answered consumers' questions to allay their concerns about peanut products. An interactive educational exhibit in Grand Central's Vanderbilt Hall during the two-day event featured a field of peanut plants, nutrition and culinary information, cooking demonstrations and appearances by noted chefs and athletes.

“Farmers take extraordinary measures to grow a safe and sustainable crop," explained Raffaela Marie Fenn, president and managing director of NPB, “We want people to feel confident they can enjoy peanut products."



Salmonella Triggers Pistachio Recall

WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration reported in late March that a California processor is recalling about 1 million pounds of pistachios that may have been contaminated with salmonella. Setton Pistachio, based in Terra Bella, CA, decided to recall its 2008 crop after one of its customers, Kraft Foods, said it found salmonella during routine analysis of the product and notified the FDA, news sources said today.

The pistachios were shipped in 1,000- and 2,000-lb. bags to wholesalers who repackage them for retail or incorporate them as ingredients in other foods. No illnesses have been tied to the contaminated pistachios, but FDA officials warned consumers not to eat pistachios until the investigation is complete as additional recalls are likely. The agency set up a website to update the public: fda.gov/pistachios.

The contaminated pistachios are not related to the recent salmonella outbreak associated with peanut ingredients.

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