After the recall since March of a couple million pounds of pistachios in over 660 separate products, Setton Pistachio sent its Chief Operating Officer (COO) out to deny the California company continued to ship its seeds after discovering they were contaminated with salmonella.
In doing so, Setton’s COO Mia Cohen took exception to the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) investigative report, known as a 483 for its form number.
“We adamantly disagree with portions of the 483 and we have responded accordingly…Our company never knowingly shipped pistachios potentially contaminated with Salmonella. All pistachios, which tested positive, were either reconditioned or held in quarantine and never hit the marketplace, ” Ms. Cohen told the industry site foodnavigator-usa.com.
Since FDA took pre-emptive action with Setton , there are no known illnesses associated with the massive recall. This dispute about the facts will remain between FDA and Setton. With peanuts, salmonella contamination made over 700 people sick and was responsible for nine deaths. As part of the discovery process involving victims of the Peanut Corporation of America, third party experts extensively inspected those facilities in Texas and Georgia last month.
FDA was very critical of Setton’s action to “recondition” pistachios that tested positive for salmonella. In at least one instance, the company re-roasted pistachios that tested positive for Salmonella and then blended them together with other nuts for sale.
Setton says re-conditioning is an accepted way of killing salmonella. However, there is potential for cross contamination.
Much of Setton’s defense of its action rests on its hiring of the American Council for Food Safety and Quality (known as DFA in California ) once it had positive salmonella test results.
“They conducted hundreds of tests from October to February and could find no evidence of Salmonella in our facility,” Cohen said. “There was never a suggestion from DFA not to ship.”
It should be noted that Peanut Corporation of America also had a third-party auditor that did not question its practices.
Our report on the 483 report can be found here.