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Alert: Health Department Warns of Possible Pistachio Contamination

April 1, 2009 — Virgin Islanders should go through their pantries and discard any products that list pistachios as an ingredient because the products might be contaminated with Salmonella, the V.I. Health Department has warned.
Acting Health Commissioner Julia Sheen said the department is closely monitoring a recall of pistachio and pistachio-containing products by the Food and Drug Administration and is urging residents to discard any such products still on hand. That could include anything from the raw nuts to cookies, ice cream and other snacks. Brand names affected include Planters, the Georgia Nut Company and Back to Nature products.
The FDA is investigating a Salmonella contamination in pistachio products sold by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc. in California. Salmonella is a rod-shaped bacterium found in the intestine that can cause food poisoning, gastroenteritis, and typhoid fever. Infection by the Salmonella bacteria is called salmonellosis.
Residents who fall ill after eating pistachios or pistachio-containing products should seek immediate care, Sheen said.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Symptoms typically set in from eight to 72 hours after the contaminated food was eaten. Additional symptoms can include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually disappear within 4 to 7 days.
Many people with salmonellosis recover without treatment and may never need to see a doctor. However, Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially for infants and young children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, and older adults, who are at a higher risk for food-borne illness, as are people with weakened immune systems such as those carrying the HIV/AIDS virus, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and transplant patients.
Sheen also reminded residents of the mid-January recall of peanuts and peanut-containing products due to salmonella contamination and urged residents to maintain vigilance for peanut products, discarding any such products they may still have at home. The peanut recall is from the Peanut Corporation of America, which has since filed for bankruptcy.
Peanuts are used in a broad range of products. Because some people have severe allergic reactions to peanuts, food products containing peanuts must include them in the list of ingredients on the packaging.
The FDA said that major national brands of jarred peanut butter found in grocery stores are not affected by the PCA recall. However, potentially contaminated products might not have the PCA label because some other companies use PCA peanuts as ingredients in their products and put their own brand names on their labels.
Examples of products that might contain peanuts or pistachios as ingredients are candy cookies, donuts, crackers, cereal, ice cream, toppings dressing and seasonings, among others.
"Residents should stop eating any of the products that have been recalled and should dispose of them in a manner that prevents others from eating them," Sheen said.
Residents can search a detailed list of recalled peanut and pistachio products by visiting sections on the FDA website dedicated to the pistachio or peanut recalls.
Those without Internet access can get information by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO or 1-800-232-4636 24 hours a day.

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