Things are not so wonderful at The Wonderful Co. LLC. An inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) turned up evidence that pistachios produced at the plant were linked to a salmonella outbreak in nine states that affected 11 people, according to an agency warning letter issued to the company.
Ten of those individuals were interviewed and eight of those said they ate pistachios the week before they got sick. Five of them said they ate Wonderful brand pistachios.
“By comparison, a review of data from the 2006-2007 FoodNet Population Survey, which provides information about food consumption among the general population, suggests that only 12 percent of consumers would have been expected to consume pistachios in a weeklong period,” the warning letter stated. “The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] evaluated the probability of case-patients reporting this exposure among a sample of 10 persons and found significance when four or more case-patients report the exposure.”
Salmonella infections can cause symptoms such as painful abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever that last four to seven days. In some patients, the symptoms can be severe and life threatening. Infections develop 12 to 72 hours after consumption of an infected food.
FDA officials who inspected the plant collected three product samples, each of which was composed of 30 subsamples. Five of the subsamples from raw in-shell pistachios tested positive for salmonella. Genetic testing determined that the salmonella strain was almost identical to the strain involved in the outbreak.
Wonderful issued a recall of the nuts in April and told the FDA that it would install a system to remove foreign material from the nuts before storing them. The agency’s letter claims the company did not provide documentation demonstrating the effectiveness of the changes it made to ensure that another outbreak would not occur.