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Salmonella Outbreak Tied to Imported Pine Nuts

Forty-two people in six states have Salmonella Enteritidis infections linked to contaminated Turkish pine nuts from bulk bins at Wegmans grocery stores, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.

The Wegmans Food Markets chain is recalling 5,000 pounds of pine nuts it says were sold in  most of its stores in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia between July 1 and Oct. 18. The chain has 79 supermarkets in those states.

Sunrise Commodities of Englewood Cliffs, NJ imported the pine nuts from Turkey, according to Wegmans. However, the CDC said the nuts may not have originated there.

The Food and Drug Administration is working with the CDC and state health officials to determine where the pine nuts came from and whether they were distributed to other retailers.

In its report on the outbreak investigation, the CDC said there is both epidemiological and microbiological evidence pointing to pine nuts as the source of the oubreak.

Among 30 of the ill people for whom information was available, 19 — 63 percent — reported eating Turkish pine nuts or products containing pine nuts during the week before the onset of their symptoms. Some of them recalled eating prepared foods, such as Caprese salad or asparagus with pine nuts, sold at Wegmans stores, the CDC said.

Tests conducted by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services found the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis in a sample of Turkish pine nuts from the bulk bins at Wegmans stores and also in pine nuts collected at an ill person’s home. 

Tests conducted by the New York State Department of Health isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella from two separate samples of homemade pesto collected from two unrelated patients’ homes, and also in a sample of pine nuts at a third patient’s home.  The CDC said the pine nuts were from the bulk bin at a Wegmans store.

Onset of the illnesses was on or after Aug. 20, according to the CDC. New York has reported 26 outbreak cases linked to pine nuts. Pennsylvania has confirmed 8 cases, Virigina 4 and New Jersey 2.  Single cases have been reported by Arizona and Maryland.

Those sickened range in age from 1 to 94; the median age is 43. Two patients have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The CDC advises consumers, restaurants and food service operators to check their cupboards, refrigerators or freezers and said Turkish pine nuts purchased from bulk bins at Wegmans between July 1 and Oct. 18 should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag in a sealed trash can. Any food prepared with the recalled pine nuts, including pesto, salads and baked goods, should also not be eaten, the CDC said.

Wegmans said it used Shoppers Club card records to identify customers who purchased the Turkish pine nuts and placed automated phone calls alerting them to the recall. In its recall announcement, the company said the recalled pine nuts were not sold at the company’s Northborough, Massachusetts store, which opened Oct. 16.

Consumers with questions may contact Wegmans consumer affairs department toll free at 1-800-WEGMANS (934-6267) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time. 


CDC Salmonella Pine Nuts Outbreak Map

The cluster of illness caused by contaminated pine nuts is at least the 10th multistate outbreak of foodborne disease in the U.S. this year. The CDC has assisted in the investigation of outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 linked to hazelnuts and bologna; Salmonella in turkey burgers, imported cantaloupes, sprouts, imported papayas and ground turkey; and Listeria in domestic cantaloupes. In addition, there have been nationwide outbreaks of Salmonella infection involving pet frogs and backyard chicks and ducklings.

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  • Some common symptoms of Salmonella poisoning are diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and vomiting. If you do get infected with Salmonella, you can expect to be sick for up to 1 week. Another source of Salmonella are turtles.