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Whole Foods Announces Recall Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

Dec. 22, 2009 -- The FDA says an Oregon company is recalling 114,350 pounds of shelled hazelnuts that have "the potential" to be contaminated with salmonella, an organism that can cause serious illness, even death.

The nuts, also known as filberts, have been distributed across the U.S. and Canada, according to a news release by Willamette Shelling Inc. of Newberg, Ore., that was posted on the FDA's web site.

Ben Mitchell, president of Willamette Shelling and manager of Willamette Filbert Growers, tells WebMD that Willamette Shelling recalled "a total of 114,350 pounds" of shelled hazelnuts because of possible salmonella contamination. No illnesses have been reported.

Whole Foods, the giant grocery chain based in Austin, Texas, has also announced in a news release on the FDA web site that it is a recalling an unspecified amount of raw organic hazelnuts. Libba Letton, a spokesperson for Whole Foods, says in an email that the hazelnuts being recalled originated with Willamette Shelling and Willamette Filbert Growers. The recall covers hazelnuts sold through its stores in California, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

Mitchell tells WebMD that Willamette Shelling sold the recalled nuts to four distributing companies, including Willamette Filbert Growers, of which he is manager.

Besides Whole Foods, Mitchell says Willamette's nuts are on the market under the brand names Kunze Farms, Evonuk Oregon Hazelnuts, Canadian Hazelnuts, and Firestone Farms.

Whole Foods says in its news release that the organic raw hazelnuts it is recalling were contaminated with salmonella, but Mitchell tells WebMD there is no evidence of that. He says only one batch at Willamette Filbert had tested positive for salmonella, but those were not sold to Whole Foods.

Recall Is Precautionary

Mitchell tells WebMD that the latest recall is precautionary but necessary to ensure public health.

Whole Foods says in its announcement on the FDA web site that it also is recalling non-organic dry roasted hazelnuts sold in bulk through its stores in California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington and non-organic raw hazelnuts, or filberts, sold through its stores in Oregon and Washington.

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