updated 5/19/2004 9:40:57 AM ET 2004-05-19T13:40:57

A California company is recalling 5 million pounds of raw almonds sold nationwide after the Food and Drug Administration received seven reports of food poisoning.

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Paramount Farms Inc. of Los Angeles said Tuesday the recalled almonds may contain salmonella, a harmful germ that can cause food poisoning. The recall covers 2.7 million packages of raw almonds sold under the brand names Kirkland Signature, Sunkist and Trader Joe’s.

The FDA received reports that the seven people in Alaska, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Utah were sick with salmonella enteritidis, a type of food poisoning. In five cases, consumers had bought the almonds from Costco Wholesale Inc. in Oregon, Paramount said in a statement.

Young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to infection from salmonella. In some cases, it is fatal.

The company noted that the those who became sick have recovered.

“While no salmonella has been found in Paramount products, we have taken this step out of an abundance of caution and to assure our customers and consumers of the quality and safety of our products,” said David Szeflin, Paramount’s vice president of operations.

The recalled almonds sold under the Kirkland Signature brand are specifically labeled as raw. They were sold in 3-pound, lay flat plastic bags and stamped with a “best before” date from 8/21/04 to 2/8/05.

Recalled almonds sold under Trader Joe’s and Sunkist brands were marked with “best before dates” of 8/21/04 to 3/15/05. The almonds sold by Trader Joe’s are in 1-pound packages, labeled as “nonpareil variety almonds. Those sold by Sunkist are in 10-ounce bags and are marked as “raw natural whole almonds.

Consumers who have the recalled almonds are asked to return them to the stores where they bought them. Anyone with questions about the recall can reach Paramount on Wednesday starting at 3 p.m. EDT by calling 1-800-496-5168.

Paramount said it is cooperating with federal regulators as their investigation continues.

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