The salmonella scare that prompted a blanket federal warning against eating pistachios may have erupted because contaminated raw nuts got mixed with roasted nuts during processing, the company at the center of the nationwide recall said yesterday.

Lee Cohen, the production manager for Setton International Foods Inc., said that the company does not believe that pistachios were contaminated by a human or animal source in its plant. He said that the company suspects that roasted pistachios sold to Kraft Foods Inc. may have become mixed at Setton's plant with raw nuts that could have contained traces of the bacteria.

The pistachios were processed at central California-based Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc., which is in the corporate family of Setton International Foods Inc., based in Commack, N.Y.


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