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Pistachios still being sold in Metro

By Juan V. Sarmiento Jr, Allison Lopez, Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:33:00 04/07/2009

Filed Under: Food, Health, Consumer Issues, Diseases

MANILA, Philippines?Almost a week after the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) warned the public against eating pistachios and products containing the nut because of a possible salmonella contamination, two ice cream products with pistachio and three brands of salted pistachio are still being sold in a number of supermarkets and convenience stores in Metro Manila.

People who have ingested food or other products with the salmonella bacteria may experience severe diarrhea that may cause dehydration, fever, abdominal cramps, joint pain, eye irritation and painful urination.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer has found that Arce Dairy?s pistachio ice cream and Selecta Creations? pistachio and cashew ice cream are still being sold at Shopwise Supermarket at Festival Mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, a stone?s throw away from the BFAD office.

Shopwise is even selling Selecta?s pistachio and cashew ice cream in 800-ml containers in a ?weekend pack? with another flavor like Double Dutch. The pack is offered at a discount of P10.

Frances Yu, vice president of Shopwise, said the Selecta and Arce Dairy products containing pistachio were not among those that the BFAD had ordered recalled.

?It (the BFAD order) does not specify local products containing pistachio byproducts,? Yu said Monday from Florida, USA when reached by the Inquirer.

She said the Selecta and Arce Dairy products containing pistachio were ?not part of the BFAD pullout order.?

But in an advisory issued on April 1 and posted on www.bfad.gov.ph, BFAD Director Leticia Gutierrez asked consumers not to eat ?products that have been recalled and [to] throw them away in a manner that prevents others from eating them.?

Gutierrez also urged consumers to ?postpone eating other products containing pistachio until information becomes available about whether that product may be affected.?

Makati Supermart at the Town Center in Ayala Alabang was also selling Arce Dairy?s pistachio ice cream and Selecta?s pistachio and cashew ice cream.

Told about the BFAD order, Beth Carpio, supervisor for dairy products at Makati Supermart Alabang, on Monday said she had not received an order from management to pull out the ice cream containing pistachio.

?I?ll have the products pulled out now. Na overlook ko (I did not notice these products before),? said Carpio, who claimed to have heard about the BFAD order on TV last week.

At Save More Supermarket, also at Festival Mall, the Inquirer found on Sunday night a pack of Traditional Salted Pistachio. The nuts were imported by Molina & Sons (Phils.) Inc., which is based in Binondo, Manila.

In a statement, SM Supermarket, which operates Save More, Monday night said: ?We have instructed our people to return to the supplier [the items] immediately. Should they fail and leave a few on the shelves, we will call their attention to take out [the items] immediately.?

Growers, Tobi?s

The Inquirer Monday spotted 32-gram packs of Growers salted pistachio nuts being sold at a 7-11 store at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

Asked why the items were not pulled out despite the BFAD advisory, a male clerk replied that the warning only covered Selecta products.

At the convenience store of a Jetti gas station on Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, a single pack of Tobi?s pistachio nuts was also seen Monday. The clerk said the nuts were still being sold because there was no order from management to pull them out.

The BFAD has officially adopted and relayed to the public the warning made by its US counterpart, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), against 42 US pistachio products that have been voluntarily recalled by affected food processing companies.

Setton Farms

The FDA is investigating salmonella contamination in products sold by the California-based Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc.

On April 3, the BFAD ordered the immediate recall of two pistachio products: Setton Farms Premium California Roasted Salted Pistachios, imported by Duty Free Philippines, and Setton Farms Roasted Salted Pistachios, imported by Andalucia Trading Co. Inc.

The BFAD said it ordered the recall of the two products because of the risk of salmonella contamination.

US brands

?This is due to the US Food and Drug Administration investigation of Salmonella contamination in pistachio products sold by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc. (based in) California and the establishment?s voluntary recall of its processed Pistachios products,? the BFAD said in its April 3 advisory.

In its previous advisory, the BFAD identified the recalled US pistachio products as those with the brand names The Georgia Nut Company, Back to Nature, Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Fry?s, King Soopers, Smith?s, Dillons, QFC, City Market, Foods Co. Jay C, Scott?s, Owen?s, Baker?s, Gerbes, Hilander, Pay Less stores and Setton Pistachio.

The BFAD said that Planters and Back to Nature products containing nuts had been voluntarily recalled by Kraft Foods, and that Frito-Lay branded in-shell salted pistachio had been voluntarily recalled by Frito.

Gutierrez said the BFAD had already initiated a sampling of imported pistachio and products containing pistachio in coordination with importers and distributors ?and will determine if there is salmonella contamination.?

She said those who think they have become ill from eating pistachio products should have themselves checked by a doctor.

Salmonella infection can be treated but as it spreads in the body, it can lead to chronic arthritis, which is not easy to treat.

The BFAD has not even finished testing peanut butter products. The tests are the agency?s response to the peanut butter salmonella contamination in the US last year.

Nine peanut butter products made by Pasay-based Samuya Food Manufacturing Inc., including the popular Ludy?s and Yummy peanut butter, have been recalled from the market for salmonella contamination. With a report from Doris Dumlao

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