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FDA Issues Warning on Pine Nuts

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about Turkish pine nuts from bulk containers at Wegmans Food Markets, and also food items such as pesto, salads or baked goods that may have been prepared with the pine nuts.

The agency said pine nuts imported from Turkey may be the source of at least 43 confirmed Salmonella illnesses in 7 states — California, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. Two people with salmonellosis have been hospitalized.

The FDA warning, issued Friday, differs somewhat from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outbreak investigation report, which was released Wednesday.

The CDC had reported 42 people sickened in five states — Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia — and implicated pine nuts purchased Wegmans bulk bins and prepared foods that included Wegmans pine nuts as an ingredient as the source of the outbreak. The CDC mentioned Caprese salad and asparagus with pine nuts sold at Wegmans stores as possibly being contaminated with Salmonella.

But a recall by the Wegmans grocery store chain was limited to 5,000 lbs. of pine nuts sold in the bulk foods department of most of its stores in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia between July 1 and Oct. 18, 2011. It did not include prepared food items made with pine nuts.

According to Wegmans, the recalled pine nuts were imported from Turkey and distributed by Sunrise Commodities of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. According to the CDC, “these pine nuts are imported from Turkey, but may not have originated there.”

The FDA said it is working with the CDC and state officials to investigate the source of the pine nuts and determine whether they were also shipped to other retailers.

The CDC said labs in Virginia and New York isolated the Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak strain from retail samples of Turkish pine nuts collected from a Wegmans store and from pine nuts and homemade pesto at outbreak victims’ homes.

Federal, state and local health authorities are continuing to use the national PulseNet monitoring system to identify other reports of Salmonella infection that may be part of this outbreak.   

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