H.H.S. issues draft guidance pistachio products

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services of the Food and Drug Administration on June 29 issued draft guidance for the industry on measures to address the risk for contamination by Salmonella in food containing a pistachio-derived product as an ingredient. Pistachio-derived products include roasted in-shell pistachios and shelled pistachios that are roasted or raw.

When finalized, the H.H.S. said the draft guidance "is intended to clarify for manufacturers who produce foods containing a pistachio-derived product as an ingredient that there is a risk that Salmonella species may be present in the incoming pistachio-derived product, and to recommend measures to address that risk."

While stressing that its draft guidance is not for implementation and contains nonbinding recommendations, the H.H.S. urged manufacturers of foods containing a pistachio-derived product as an ingredient to only source from suppliers with validated processes in place to adequately reduce the presence of Salmonella. In the event products are not sourced from suppliers with validated processes, the H.H.S. recommended manufacturers’ own processes adequately reduce the presence of Salmonella.

The H.H.S.’s issuance of the draft guidance comes on the heels of a recent investigation by the F.D.A. and the California Department of Public Health of Salmonella contamination in pistachio-derived products. The F.D.A. learned of the problem on March 24 when it was informed by Kraft Foods Inc. that Kraft’s Back to Nature brand of trail mix was contaminated with Salmonella. Kraft identified the source of the contamination as pistachios from Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc. and recalled its products.

The H.H.S. is accepting written or electronic comments on the draft guidance for 60 days.

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