hazelnuts.bmpThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the Oregon hazelnut industry’s food safety practice.  This action is occuring in the wake of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in late 2010, linked to Oregon hazelnuts. 

According to a report by Capitol Press, “The agency held a teleconference May 10 with several hazelnut packers and farmer representatives to discuss steps the industry is taking to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness.”  “It is an opportunity to show we’re being proactive, serious and committed to food safety,” said Compton Chase-Lansdale, president and CEO of the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon cooperative.

An agency official told participants that FDA is preparing food safety guidance documents for hazelnuts and several other agricultural commodities, said Polly Owen, manager of the Oregon Hazelnut Marketing Board.

About the Outbreak

Numerous state and federal health agencies reported that unshelled hazelnuts sold by California-based wholesaler D. DeFranco and Sons were the cause of a multi-state E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened at least 7 people.  

On March 4th 2011, D. DeFranco and Sons issued a recall for hazelnuts distributed from November 2, 2010 to December 22, 2010 in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, South Dakota, and Montana. The nuts were sold in bulk bins at grocery stores as well as under the brand names Sunripe, George Packing, Firestone Farms, and Northwest Hazelnut in two-pound and four-pound packages, all with a sell-by date of June 30, 2011.