Pine nuts imported from Turkey by Sunrise Commodities (Englewood Cliffs, NJ) and sold in Wegmans supermarkets have been identified as the source of a strain of Salmonella Enteritidis that has infected 42 people in six US states.

CDC reports that the illnesses, which began on August 20, 2011, have been reported in Arizona (1), Maryland (1), New Jersey (2), New York (26), Pennsylvania (8) and Virginia (4). Two people were hospitalized.

Sixty-three percent (63%) of the 30 outbreak victims for whom information is available reported having eaten Turkish pine nuts, or products containing them, during the week before they became ill. Among the prepared foods identified as containing the contaminated pine nuts were Caprese salad or asparagus with pine nuts, sold at Wegmans stores. The CDC report is unclear whether these prepared foods were purchased ready-made from Wegmans stores, or whether they were home-prepared using pine nuts purchased at Wegmans.

The Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak strain was recovered by the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services from Turkish pine nuts purchased from a Wegmans bulk bin and collected from a patient’s home, and from samples of Turkish pine nuts obtained directly from a Wegmans store. New York found Salmonella Enteritidis in two separate samples of homemade pesto containing the implicated pine nuts, as well as from a Wegmans store in that state and from pine nuts collected from a New York patient’s home. The Salmonella recovered from the pesto samples is identical to the outbreak strain.

Today, Wegmans Food Markets Inc. (Rochester, NY) recalled approximately 5,000 pounds of Turkish Pine Nuts sold in the bulk food departments of Wegmans stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland between July 1, and October 18, 2011.

Pine nuts have a fairly long shelf life, and may linger in consumers’ homes – either plain or as an ingredient in a pesto or prepared meal – for a long time after the retail recall is complete. CDC offers the following advice:

  • Consumers should check their homes, including refrigerators and freezers, for Turkish pine nuts purchased from bulk bins at Wegmans stores between July 1, 2011 and October 18, 2011 and not eat them. Consumers should also not eat any foods prepared with the recalled product, including pesto, salads, and baked goods.
  • Restaurants and food service operators should not serve the recalled product.
  • Consumers, retailers, and others who have any of the recalled product should dispose of it in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals from eating it.
  • Persons who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated recalled products should consult their health care providers. Infants, older adults, and persons with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.