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Pistachio warning could signal food safety shift

April 3, 2009
by Garance Burke
Associated Press

TERRA BELLA, Calif. - It could take weeks before health officials know exactly which pistachio products may be tainted with salmonella, but they've already issued a sweeping warning to avoid eating the nuts or foods containing them.

The move appears to indicate a shift in how the government handles food safety issues - from waiting until contaminated foods surface one-by-one and risking that more people fall ill to jumping on the problem right away, even if the message is vague.

While consumer advocates praised the government's swift action, they said the pistachio recall illustrated that more oversight was needed.

"It is encouraging that this response was so quick, but we need to move to a system that focuses on prevention through the entire food production process," said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health.

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