Yes, it's true: bacteria, like most living organisms, prefer to grow where's there some moisture. But some, like the well-known Salmonella, manages to survive for months in very dry situations, including in dry foods. That's why it crops up fairly often in unexpected places such as nuts and spices.
The recall is being made by Wegmans Food Markets. They were sold in the Bulk Foods department of most of Wegmans 79 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland between July 1 and October 18, 2011. So far there have been at least 42 confirmed illnesses due to eating these nuts. Most of the cases have been in New York State.
Wegman's got their nuts from Sunrise Commodities of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., which imported them. One would assume they came from Turkey, but I am going to check this further as their web site only lists China and Spain as sources for their pine nuts (Chinese Turkish pine nuts? ).
Unfortunately, this is a particularly vicious strain of Salmonella . Symptoms usually occur 12-72 hours after eating a heavily contaminated food. Most people would just get the usual diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. But in the case of an unlucky few, the bacteria can end up in the bloodstream and lead to more serious and long-lasting illnesses such as arthritis, arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms) and endocarditis.
Avoid it! You may also want to avoid prepared foods that contain pine nuts for a while. Wegman's also used the nuts in some of theirs (e.g. Caprese salads), and the supplier may also have sold them to others.
To your good health,