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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and is responsible for regulating and supervising the safety of foods, dietary supplements, drugs, vaccines, biological medical products, blood products, medical devices, radiation-emitting devices, veterinary products, and cosmetics (FDA Agency Profile, 2009). Aside from servicing on the safety of foods, the FDA also enforces regulations on sanitation, requirements on interstate travel as well as specific rules for control of disease.
In their website, FDA posts some news and events on the products that they are recalling due to health circumstances that may affect the consumers. One of the particular articles is about the recall of pistachio products last March 2009. This was an alarming recall because there were around 1 million stocks of pistachio that are on sale in supermarkets. The pistachio (Pistacia vera L. , Anacardiaceae or sometimes Pistaciaceae) is a small tree native to mountainous regions of Iran, Turkmenistan, Turkey and western Afghanistan, that produces an important culinary nut (Hannan, 1990).
The kernels are either fresh or salted and it is also used for ice cream and confections. It can also be made as pistachio salad, pistachio pudding, cool whip, canned fruit and marshmallows. In July 2003, FDA approved the first qualified health claim specific to nuts lowering the risk of heart disease: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1. 5 ounces (42. 5g) per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease” (Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements, 2003).
Despite of the benefits of pistachio, the incident of the recall still made an issue among pistachio buyers. According to the FDA, the contamination involves multiple strains of Salmonella. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Thus far, several illnesses have been reported by consumers that may be associated with the pistachios (FDA, 2009). This news story has been an initial move of the FDA and tests are still on going on the pistachio samples.
Some historical details on the issue were brought about the Salmonella contamination in pistachio products sold by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc, in California. It was traced when FDA was informed by Kraft Foods that its Back To Nature Trail Mix was found to be contaminated with Salmonella. Kraft had identified the source of the contamination to be pistachios from Setton. In the news story of FDA, the company has stopped all distribution of processed pistachios and will issue a voluntary recall involving approximately 1 million pounds of its products.
Another hazard posted is that pistachios were used as ingredients in a variety of foods, so there is a possibility that not only pistachio itself is affected but also some of its by-products. However, it is not yet established if other pistachio products are affected by the Salmonella outbreak. What the FDA is currently doing is a conduct of generic testing to all pistachio nuts and its food by-products to verify the situation.
However, according to the report of the FDA, consumers should not eat pistachios or food products containing them (such as pistachio bakery goods and pistachio ice cream) unless they can determine that the products do not contain pistachios from Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc. Such information is important to the public in order to prevent the possible outbreak of the Salmonella and that could lead to further health hazards among consumers. References FDA Alerts Consumers to Recall of Certain Pistachios.
(n. d. ). Retrieved May 26, 2009, from http://www. fda. gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2009/NEW01982. html FDA’s Mission Statement. (n. d. ). Retrieved May 26, 2009, from http://www. fda. gov/opacom/morechoices/mission. html FDA/CFSAN – Qualified Health Claims: Letter of Enforcement Discretion – Nuts and Coronary Heart Disease (Docket No 02P-0505). (n. d. ). Retrieved May 26, 2009, from http://www. cfsan. fda. gov/~dms/qhcnuts2. html Hannan, W. C. (1990). Peanuts and Pistachios International. New York: Peck Polymers.