Trader Joe's is recalling five varieties of raw walnuts sold under its house brand due to potential salmonella contamination, the chain has announced.

The recalled walnuts are Trader Joe’s Nuts Raw California Walnut Pieces, Trader Joe’s Nuts Raw California Walnut Halves & Pieces, Trader Joe’s Nuts Raw California Walnut Baking Pieces, Trader Joe’s Nuts Raw California Premium Walnut Halves and Trader Joe’s Organic Raw Walnut Halves & Pieces. The first four types were sold in 16-ounce bags; the organic nuts were sold in 12-ounce bags. The recall was ordered after salmonella was found during routine testing by a company contracted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

The tainted walnuts are those with “best buy” dates between Oct. 15 and Dec. 1, 2015. The company lists the specific lot and UPC numbers in the recall announcement. According to the FDA, the walnuts were distributed to Trader Joe’s stores nationwide.

In its announcement, Trader Joe's says, “To date, we have received no illness complaints related to these recalled products.” However, “Out of an abundance of caution, all lots of these products have been removed from store shelves and their sale has been suspended while the source of the issue is identified.” Meaning the FDA is investigating the source of the problem.

The five brands being recalled; Credit: Trader Joe's

The five brands being recalled; Credit: Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's advises customers who have purchased any of these products to dispose of them or return them to the store for a refund.
If you have any questions, call Trader Joe’s customer relations at (626) 599-3817, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This is far from the first food recall for Trader Joe's. In fact, it's the company's second recall in a week. On March 12, Trader Joe's recalled 16-ounce packages of cinnamon almonds that contained undeclared peanuts, due to allergy risks.

A recall that began with Trader Joe's peanut butter (also for salmonella) in 2012 morphed into one of the largest recalls in U.S. history (and revealed some of the nastiest food-production conditions we've ever heard of). Then there was the TJ's raw almond butter recall last year, as well as recalls for stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums and plots) and hummusSalads and wraps sold at Trader Joe's were recalled for E. coli contamination in 2013. In 2012 TJ's butter chicken was recalled for listeria — as were three tons of BBQ chicken saladSalmonella-tainted cilantro affected several Trader Joe's products in 2010. 

We could go on, but we don't want to make Trader Joe's cry. (The company did not respond to a request for comment.)

But before we beat up too much on the purveyor of the Fearless Flyer, “Trader Joe's is not really implicated more than others” in food outbreaks over the last few years, according to John Lang, an assistant professor of sociology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, who specializes in food and consumer issues. It just seems that way because “they source and package a large percentage of their store's stock under the 'Trader Joe’s' name. All other grocers have private/store labels, too, and they all source from the same places. But since TJs is synonymous with their private label for most goods, it seems like whenever there is a food recall, it involves Trader Joe's food.”

Lang points out that “Trader Joe's is also transparent and public with their recall announcements, which may also contribute to the perception that they have more recalls than other firms.”

Salmonella is is estimated to cause illness in more than 1 million Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 19,000 people are hospitalized, and 380 die from salmonella infections each year.

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