Why not: Listeria in walnuts

United Natural Trading LLC, d/b/a Woodstock Farms Manufacturing, Edison, NJ, is voluntarily recalling a limited number of lots of conventional walnuts and walnut-containing products (see attachment for products and lot numbers) that were purchased from Gibson Farms and sold under the Nature’s Promise, Woodstock, Market Basket, and Woodfield Farms brands due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes

walnuts.sorenne.apr.11The lot numbers are printed on the back of each retail bag. The walnut and walnut-containing products were shipped to retailers and distributors in limited quantities throughout the United States.

The recall was issued as a precaution because a single sample in a finished product yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes. The Company is coordinating closely with regulatory officials and has contacted its customers to ensure that any remaining recalled products are removed.

No illnesses have been reported in association with the recall and no other walnuts or products under the brands are being recalled.

Description                Lot Number  Best By Date 

Nature’s Promise Cranberry Trail Mix Net Wt. 12oz.   16082  Best By 9/17/16



                        16099  Best By 9/17/16


            16117  Best By 9/17/16       8826706612

Woodstock Walnut Halves &Pieces Net Wt. 6oz.          16092  Best By 4/1/17         4256300860

            16106  Best By 4/15/17       4256300860

Woodstock Cape Cod Cranberry Mix Net Wt. 10oz.    16079  Best By 9/17/16       4256300877

            16091  Best By 9/17/16       4256300877

            16098  Best By 9/17/16       4256300877

            16126  Best By 11/30/16     4256300877

Market Basket Walnuts Raw Net Wt. 7oz.          16083  Best By 3/23/17       4970540809

            16105  Best By 4/14/17       4970540809

Market Basket Cape Cod  Cranberry Trail Mix Net Wt. 10oz. 16106  Best By 9/17/16       4970540832

Woodfield Farms Walnuts Halves & Pieces Net Wt. 2.5lbs.     16112  Best By 4/21/17       7523900194

Nature’s Promise Walnuts Halves & Pieces Net Wt. 7oz.         16093  Best By 4/2/17         8826714404

            16110  Best By 4/19/17       8826714404

Is that a bearded dragon in your pocket or are you just happy to see me: walnut/Salmonella edition

Inspectors and investigators have the best stories and FDA’s move over the past few years to post warning letters is a goldmine for food safety stories. Like the one Gregory Banes of Gold State Nut LLC received earlier this month. According to the letter, Banes was tugging the skin of a bearded dragon in his office during an FDA visit. And then he went to touch some nuts.DnYEv

Three of 100 environmental swabs we collected from your facility yielded Salmonella. One of the swabs was taken from a cross-beam directly above the belt where all shelled walnuts exit the shell cracker. Our investigators observed debris falling from this cross-beam directly onto the belt below where walnuts exit the cracker during operation. All cracked walnuts pass under this cross-beam.

Two swabs collected from the inside of the reptile enclosure in your office yielded Salmonella. During an interview in your office located within the packing facility, our investigators observed you holding a bearded dragon reptile and peeling off its skin with your bare hands. Following this interview, you were seen touching shelled walnut meats with your bare hands, without first washing your hands. Reptiles are known reservoirs for Salmonella.

Beyond the dragon handling, the company had lots of risk issues including a lack of hand washing tools, and cross-contamination potential.

Salmonella in Trader Joe’s walnuts

Trader Joe’s Company is recalling Raw Walnuts because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

ucm438493The recalled Trader Joe’s Raw Walnuts were distributed to Trader Joe’s stores nationwide.

The products are packaged in clear plastic bags with the UPC Codes printed on the back. For the Raw California Walnut products, the “BEST BY” dates and Lot Numbers can be found printed on the back of the packages. For the Organic Raw Walnut products, the “BEST BY” dates can be found printed on the front of the packages.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing by an outside company contracted by the FDA revealed the presence of Salmonella in certain packages of Trader Joe’s Raw Walnuts.

Out of an abundance of caution, Trader Joe’s removed all lots of these products from store shelves and will suspend sale of these products while the FDA and the manufacturers involved continue their investigation into the source of the problem.

To date, Trader Joe’s Company has not received any illness complaints related to these recalled products.


Brand 8 oz. Chopped Walnuts and Fisher Brand 8 oz. Pecan Cookie Pieces

John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc. (JBSS) announced today that it is voluntarily recalling Fisher 8 oz. Chopped Walnuts and Fisher 8 oz. Pecan Cookie Pieces packaged in plastic bags because some of these products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

salm.walnuts.dec.14Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Consumers who have recently purchased the items with the BEST BY DATES listed below at stores located in AR, AZ, CO, KS, LA, MO, NM, OK, and TX or online should not consume this product and should return it to the store of purchase for a full refund or replacement. The BEST BY DATES can be found on the back of the bags.

Item Description:

P02352 070690 02360 3 Fisher Chopped Walnuts 8   10/31/15 TQ2
P02352 070690 02360 3 Fisher Chopped Walnuts 8   11/01/15 TQ1
P02352 070690 02360 3 Fisher Chopped Walnuts 8   11/01/15 TQ2
P02352 070690 02360 3 Fisher Chopped Walnuts 8   11/03/15 TQ1
P02352 070690 02360 3 Fisher Chopped Walnuts 8   11/03/15 TQ2


070690 02351 1




Pecan Cookie Pieces






11/03/15 TQ1


P02351 070690 02351 1 Fisher Pecan Cookie Pieces 8   11/03/15 TQ2

To date, JBSS has not received any reports of illnesses in connection with the items listed above.

walnuts.sorenne.apr.11This voluntary recall is the result of a routine sampling program conducted by the FDA in the retail marketplace which revealed that a package of Fisher Chopped Walnuts contained Salmonella.

Contact for Consumers:
Consumers or customers who have questions about the above recall may contact John B. Sanfilippo and Son, Inc. Customer Service toll-free at (800) 874-8734 Monday through Friday from 8:15 AM to 5:15 PM Central Time.

Growth and survival of Enterobacteriaceae and inoculated salmonella on walnut hulls and maturing walnut fruit

Postharvest contamination of in-shell walnuts may occur when the fruit is dropped to or harvested from the orchard floor or as the outer hull is removed with mechanical abrasion and water.

walnuts.sorenne.apr.11To evaluate the effect of maturity on the potential for microbial contamination, ‘Howard’ walnut fruits were collected weekly from the tree canopy, from 6 to 7 weeks before to 1 week after typical commercial harvest. The numbers of microorganisms able to form colonies on plate count agar, MacConkey agar (presumptive Enterobacteriaceae), or violet red bile lactose agar (presumptive coliforms) were compared on whole walnut fruits collected by hand directly from the tree or after exposure to the orchard floor for 10 min or 24 h. Salmonella Enteritidis PT 30 was inoculated at <1 to 8 log CFU/g onto 5-g hull pieces (from walnut fruit of different maturities) and stored at ambient temperature (23 to 26°C) in unsealed bags (38 to 90% relative humidity [RH] within bag) or in low humidity (20 to 45% RH) or high humidity (68 to 89% RH) for up to 14 days. Salmonella at 2 or 5 log CFU/ml was inoculated onto hulls before or up to 14 days after blending with water.

As the walnut fruit matured, the indigenous bacterial levels on the surface increased, irrespective of whether fruit was collected from the tree or the ground. The RH influenced the growth of inoculated bacteria on hull pieces: Salmonella declined to <0.3 log CFU/g within 24 h at low RH but multiplied from 2 to 6 log CFU/g over 14 days of storage at >40% RH. Salmonella populations declined to <1 CFU/ml within 24 h in freshly blended green hulls but survived or multiplied in blended brown hulls or in blended green hulls that had been stored for 24 h or more before being inoculated.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 9, September 2014, pp. 1448-1648, pp. 1462-1470(9)

Blessington, Tyann1; Mitcham, Elizabeth J.2; Harris, Linda J.


Walnuts again; Canadians say certain Compass brand in-shell California walnuts may contain Salmonella

In April 2011, 14 people in Canada were stricken with E. coli O157:H7, including one death, linked to walnuts from California.

Many questions were raised about the link, and there was never any follow-up report (not one that I saw).

Today, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Compass Food Sales warned the public not to consume Compass brand in-shell California Walnuts described below because the product may be contaminated with Salmonella.
The following walnuts, product of USA, are affected by this alert:

Brand Product Size UPC Best Before
Compass California Walnuts (in-shell) 300 g 0 68297 20121 0 07MA2014

This product has been distributed nationally.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

CFIA always says that, and then sometimes changes its tune.

13 sick, 9 hospitalized in Canadian E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to walnuts

Late last night, Canadian health types issued a media release saying there were people sick from E. coli O157:H7 in several provinces linked to walnuts.

I noted that was really crappy risk communication – not being clear about what was known in terms of sick people and what was not known — which is expected of government agencies like Health Canada, especially when they proclaimed a couple of days ago they were a founding member of some international Center of Excellence in Food Risk Communication (it’s a website and sucks).

About an hour ago (2:16 p.m. Eastern, April 4, 2011) the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced there have been 13 cases of E. coli O157:H7 in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick (those are provinces in Canada). Nine individuals have been hospitalized and two cases developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

The strivers for excellence in food risk communication note:

“You can help reduce your risk of becoming ill by following safe food handling precautions:
? Clean counters and cutting boards and wash your hands regularly.
? Read labels and follow cooking and storage instructions for all foods.
? Make sure to check the "best before" date on all foods.
? Use warm soapy water to clean knives, cutting boards, utensils, your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially meat and fish.
? Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of cooking.
? Freeze or consume leftovers within four days of cooking.
? Always reheat leftovers until steaming hot before eating.
? Keep refrigerators clean and at a temperature below 4° C, or 40° F. Install a thermometer in your refrigerator to be sure.”

I have no idea how this applies to raw walnuts, like the ones I had on my salad for lunch (those yummy walnuts were from California, not Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Iran, the places from where the fingered distributor, Amira Enterprises Inc. of St. Laurent, QC, imports things like walnuts.

And rather than toss out the suspect walnuts, Canadian health types recommend “consumers who have raw shelled walnuts in their home can reduce the risk of E. coli infection by roasting the walnuts prior to eating them. Consumers should place the nuts on a cooking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, turning the nuts over once after five minutes.”

This does not account for the risk of cross-contamination with a virulent pathogen. My microbiology friends look forward to testing out this advice. I wonder what it was based on?