Walnuts recalled over contamination fear

Oct. 15, 2009 at 4:31 PM
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ELGIN, Ill., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A U.S. nut packager recalled walnuts and nut toppings possibly contaminated with a highly infective foodborne pathogen, the company said.

John B. Sanfilippo & Son Food Inc. of Elgin, Ill., known for its Fisher brand of nuts, revealed Wednesday it has voluntarily recalled about 3,000 pounds of nuts sold in 10 U.S. states under its Baking Classics brand.

The recall involves walnut halves and pieces in 16-ounce bags and nut topping in 2-ounce bags.

The Baking Classics brand nut toppings have a UPC code of 04113002059 and a "best before" date of Sept. 28, 2010. The walnut halves and pieces have a UPC code of 04113001174 and a best before date of Sept. 24, 2010.

The nuts may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a relatively rare but highly virulent foodborne pathogen that causes a bacterial infection called Listeriosis, which is most likely to infect pregnant women and their babies.

Common symptoms include fever and muscle aches. If the infection spreads to the nervous system it can cause meningitis, an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

An estimated 2,500 people in the United States contract the disease from eating Listeria-contaminated food and about 500 of them die, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics indicate.

Sanfilippo said it had not received any reports of illnesses from its recalled products, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday.

Sanfilippo said it learned of the possible contamination after the bacteria were detected by an outside testing laboratory.

The lab traced the bacteria in five lots of nuts, amounting to 37,000 pounds, that came from Gustine, Calif., in the San Joaquin Valley, Sanfilippo said.

Customers with questions can contact Sanfilippo at 1-800-874-8734.

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