I’m a little surprised at the FDA’s quick reaction to the news of possible salmonella contamination in pistachios. The agency convinced Setton Pistachio, the nation’s second-largest pistachio producer, to recall its entire 2008 crop â€” even though nobody has reported a confirmed case of salmonella poisoning from those nuts.
Contrast that with the peanut recall earlier this year, where almost a month elapsed between the initial reports of contamination and a complete recall of the Peanut Corporation of America’s product line.
FDA officials say they’re taking a harder line with food producers, and that’s a positive development.
Still, the pistachio story highlights some of the ongoing gaps in our food safety system. The FDA learned about possible contamination from Kraft Foods, which found salmonella in trail mix made with Setton pistachios. It turns out, though, Kraft found salmonella in trail mix on four other occasions, dating back to December 2007.
But private labs don’t have to report their findings to the FDA â€” so the agency never learned about those tests.