The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: 202-332-9110

Pistachio Recall Shows FDA Needs to Shift from Voluntary Guidance to Food Safety Mandates for the Nut Industry

Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal


The latest recall of a popular
nut-pistachios-is expanding to include all nuts processed by Setton
Farms in 2008. This recall, coming on the heels of a peanut recall
affecting over 2,000 products, is another blow to farmers, nut
processors, and consumer confidence. It proves the Food and Drug
Administration urgently needs to institute mandatory process controls
for all tree nuts and peanuts. The FDA should immediately require
processors to institute process controls that would ensure safe

is being proactive, initiating the recall and working with Setton Farms
to get potentially harmful products off the market even before any
illnesses have been reported. But the agency didn't act fast enough to
prevent the eight other outbreaks from peanuts or mixed nuts since

The agency should not go company-by-company when it is
clear that process controls are warranted for the nut industry overall.
Other nut processors may be making the same mistakes that resulted in
the Setton plant and the Peanut Corporation of America shipping
millions of pounds of tainted nuts across the country.

FDA officials say they intend to issue "guidance" to the
pistachio industry, but this is an inadequate response. Guidance is
voluntary; regulations are law. We can't rely on industry honor systems
to protect us. Without mandates and enforcement, Americans' protection
from food safety illnesses and future scares is paper thin.

Since 1971, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been a strong advocate for nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science.