Friday, October 28, 2011


I just blogged the ongoing recall of Turkish Pine Nuts in the U.S. by Wegman's (a large chain of grocery stores). They got them from the importer - Sunrise Commodities.

Many of the news sites are naturally saying the nuts were imported from Turkey. In fact, I was on the point of saying the same thing myself when I decided to check the importer's website -
Here's what I saw (cut and paste):

Pine Nuts
Product Category:
Imported Nuts
Origin:Chinese, Spanish

From what I have been able to find out, it seems that most pine nuts come from either the Chinese-Russian border or from Turkey. However, two other factors are important: the borders in this area can be very porous, and, even more significant, these days pine-nuts are often processed in China. Chinese processing of food tends to be cheaper and even much of the fish that is wild-caught in U.S. waters is sent to China for processing for that reason.

So where did the contaminants get in? Possibly, the nuts were grown in Turkey, but it is quite likely that the Salmonella entered during their processing in China, not in Turkey. It is well known that food processing in China is not as sanitary as we would like, and the attitude towards, and practice of food safety is not the same as in many other countries.

So - bottom line - I would bet that these nuts were probably imported from China, not Turkey (as on the importer's website). That's globalization for you.

By the way, I have also found out that several major store chains in the U.S. have stopped selling pine nuts imported from China because of the poor quality and safety concerns. Wegman's - you may want to consider this!

To your good health,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pine nuts kernels from Turkey have very different physical characteristics than the Chinese variety. The Turkish kernels are elongated with two pointed ends and are capsule shaped. The Chinese have a more of a popcorn shape with a rounded and and a pointed end. It would be very easy to tell the difference.