Monday, January 18, 2010

Potential Salmonella Contamination found in Pine Nuts

January 18, 2010

On January 15th 2010 Hines Nut Company initiated a recall of 270 packages of pine nuts packaged under the brand name Harris Teeter Farms Market. According to the FDA press release ( the pine nuts were purchased from Red River Foods in Camarillo, CA and were found to be potentially contaminated with salmonella. To date there have been no complaints or any reported illnesses related to the product. However this incident is another warning about the vulnerabilities that the imported nut industry has regarding microbial contamination.

We urge any company that sells pine nuts, pine nut products, or any nut product that is sold raw for human consumption, to contact their supplier immediately to verify that the product has been tested for microbial contaminants, and that the integrity of the manufacturer can be verified.

Last year at the Peanut and Tree Nut Processors convention we mentioned that there had been an increase in rejections from customers who test for microbial contaminants in imported nut products, but emphasized that testing upon arrival was not a substitute for responsible sourcing, which includes taking steps to ensure that the overseas supplier adheres to good manufacturing practices, and that this integrity is present throughout the distribution chain. The entire presentation, entitled "An Ounce of Prevention, or a Metric Ton of Cure" can be viewed on our blog at this link:

Apparently in the present incident, a routine inspection by Red River Foods produced the evidence that the pine nuts have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. But this one step does not ensure public safety, nor does it address the potential for contamination that may go undetected. We have emphasized on many occasions that testing upon arrival is not a substitute for ensuring the good manufacturing practices of suppliers. It is merely a validation step confirm these practices.

Historically the imported nut industry has had no organized programs for inspection of overseas facilities. Little is known about the conditions that exist overseas - conditions that could have a severe impact on the safety of the consumer, as well as devastating financial consequences to any company involved in a major recall. Warning signs of any kind are an indication of serious problems. The industry has had several warning signs in various nut products, and it is important that we address these issues head on, and that we address them immediately.

Our blog, which offers insight to the problems and proposed solutions, can be viewed at

No comments:

Post a Comment