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Natural Foods Merchandiser

FDA pushes pistachio recall

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers not to eat two brands of pistachios repackaged and sold to hotels nationwide because the nuts might have been exposed to salmonella.

But the head of the packaging company says she pulled all the packages in question in April.

The FDA said Monday that consumers should not eat California Prime Produce and Orange County Orchards brands of pistachios repacked by Orca Distribution West Inc. of Anaheim, Calif. Orca received and repacked pistachios that were recalled earlier by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc.

The pistachios were packaged in clear six-ounce flexible Ziploc bags with sell-by dates of July 30 and Aug. 30.

The FDA said it visited Orca as part of its audit checks to follow up on Setton Pistachio's recall and found that Orca had repacked and distributed products subject to the recall. The FDA said it issued an alert on June 22 because Orca did not notify the public that it had recalled the products.

But Jan Caselli, head of Orca, said she saw no reason to issue a statement because she notified all her customers and pulled all the packages in April after she was contacted by the FDA.

Caselli said the packages were distributed to one airport in Palm Springs, Calif., and to 15 hotels owned by the Hilton, Hyatt and Westin chains.

"In April I contacted my customers. They pulled these bags immediately, and I did a replacement shipment of new product from a new grower and a totally different supplier," Caselli said. "My customers acted diligently. These are big companies. They know what to do."

She said she has received no reports of illnesses tied to the products. She said the FDA asked her to issue a public announcement but that she refused because she already had removed all the packages.

But the FDA said the public was not aware of the recall. "Since the pistachios were sold at airports and hotels nationwide, consumers needed to know about the recall in case they may have purchased these brands of pistachios," said FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek in an email.

The FDA has recalled more than 660 items associated with the Terra Bella recall.

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