Doctor Downplays New Salmonella Scare

With concern over the pistachios salmonella scare growing, Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith sat down with medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton Wednesday to talk about the country's newest nut problem.

Ashton, in her Early Show debut, explained that pistachios are normally roasted, which would kill bacteria like salmonella, but in this case, it appears there was cross-contamination between the roasted nuts and ones that weren't roasted. She added that the Food and Drug Administration is recalling pistachios as a precautionary measure, and that, while salmonella is a common bacteria, it's an uncommon cause of death.

So far, only two people have called in with salmonella symptoms, but Ashton said that number is bound to rise in coming days.

"There tends to be a delay with diagnosing and reporting of salmonella symptoms," she told Smith. "But they're going to be watching it."

Symptoms of salmonella usually include nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal upset. If severe, it can also lead to fever, weakness and dehydration. Those who are very old, very young or who have a compromised immune system or chronic illness are more susceptible.

This is different from what the country went through with the previous peanut scare, Ashton said, because pistachios aren't as common in people's cabinets as peanut products. She also noted that officials picked up on this scare more quickly than they did the one with the peanuts, and that the pistachio manufacturer came out and admitted the contamination, rather than waiting for an investigation to lead to the company.

"We have to give them kudos for that," she said. "Again, this is a situation where we don't want to hear any contamination, any recall from the FDA. But it's like your child admitting a mistake. You might not be happy they did it in the first place, but you've got to give them credit for admitting it."

She also recommends being extra careful.

"What we're doing in my household is just reading the ingredients on things," she said. "But pistachios are not as ubiquitous as peanuts, so we're probably in a better situation this time."



Click here to read the pistachio recall information from the FDA.
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