Turkish pine nuts sold in bulk at the upscale grocery store chain Wegmans have been linked to a salmonella outbreak that sent two people to hospitals and sickened 40 others in five East Coast states and Arizona, according to an Associated Press (AP) report on Oct. 28.
The Turkish ministries of agriculture and foreign trade did not reply to Hürriyet Daily News questions regarding the identity of the Turkish firm that exported the nuts to the US, by the time the paper went to press on Oct.28.
Inspection of exported food is generally up to the regulations and rules of the destination country that will buy the good, according to Petek Ataman, chairwoman of Turkey’s Food Engineers Chamber. Thus, only a part of Turkey’s export goods go through special controls before being sent to other countries, she added.
“A product should be healthy and secure when it reaches the consumer, whether it is exported or not. Thus, should the inspection system within [Turkey] function properly and efficiently, other additional controls such incidents could be avoided. However, official inspections in Turkey remain insufficient within the country as well, thus concerns extend to exported products as well,” Ataman told the Daily News in emailed responses on Oct. 28.
Wegmans said Oct.27 it had recalled 5,000 pounds (2,267 kilograms) of pine nuts imported from Turkey by Sunrise Commodities of New Jersey. They were sold between July 1 and Oct. 18 at its stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.
42 people were reported sickened after eating the nuts. The firm said the recall applies only to Turkish pine nuts purchased in bulk.
Turkish authorities recently made it possible for small and medium enterprises, which make up 80 percent of all firms in the country, to produce and trade food without supervision of field experts, Ataman said. “Given these provisions, one should not be surprised when concerns come out.”