Over the past 10 years, nuts and peanut butter have been associated with a number of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella outbreaks. In total, the related outbreaks have sickened thousands across the U.S. and internationally. Starting most recently and working backward:
Amira Enterprises, Shelled Walnuts, E. coli O157:H7. In April, 2011, Canadian health officials in Quebec announced 13 illnesses, including one death, from E. coli O157:H7 associated with consumption of shelled walnuts. The walnuts were distributed by Quebec-based Amira Enterprises. The illnesses ranged across three provinces, 9 in Quebec, 2 in Ontario, and 2 in New Brunswick.
DeFranco & Sons, Hazelnuts, E. coli O157:H7. 8 E. coli O157:H7 infections in three U.S. states between late 2010 and early 2011 were linked to hazelnuts distributed by DeFranco & Sons from Los Angeles, California. Illnesses were reported in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Pistachios, Salmonella: In April of 2009 a far-reaching recall of pistachios resulted from the recovery of of multiple strains of Salmonella from pistachios in different forms (raw, roasted in shell, roasted shelled.) A number of human illnesses with matching strains were reported in the time frame of the outbreak. The implicated products were sold under a variety of brand names.
PCA Peanuts, Salmonella. In early 2009, health officials announced a nationwide outbreak of salmonella typhimurium linked to peanut products, encompassing more than 700 illnesses in 46 states. Nine people died. The outbreak was traced to a processing plant owned and operated by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), located in Blakely, GA.
ConAgra Peanut butter, Salmonella. On Valentines day, 2007, ConAgra recalled all Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter produced at its plant in Georgia. The recall resulted from a CDC investigation that revealed of 628 persons infected with Salmonella serotype Tennessee from 47 states since August 1, 2006 linked to the peanut butter. Multiple jars of unopened peanut butter tested positive for outbreak strain as well.
Paramount Almonds, Salmonella. This outbreak of a rare strain of Salmonella enteritidis was announced in 2004, although illnesses were traced back to as early as 2002. Ultimately illnesses linked to almonds produced by Paramount Farms would be found throughout the USA and Canada. Environmental sampling conducted as part of this traceback effort did not reveal the outbreak strain of Salmonella, but did reveal several other Salmonella serotypes.