Two years ago, Setton found itself at the center of a food safety scare that shook the pistachio industry, mounting a voluntary recall of nuts it processed at the Terra Bella plant after concern over salmonella contamination. No illnesses were linked to the reported contamination.

Matoian gives Setton high marks for its response to the food safety concerns. “They shut down the plant for several weeks, did extensive cleaning and testing and held town hall meetings with the industry and growers,” he said.

Matoian said Setton and others in the industry took steps to avoid contamination. “They (Sutton) are on the leading edge of technology to be sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Radio frequency identification is used throughout the processing steps at Setton, Cohen said, for traceability “from orchards to bags to trucks to containers to machines.”

A system of pressurized air — “positive air flow” — is used to keep any contaminants from raw nuts from traveling to those ready to eat.

“Food safety is an instrumental part of what we do,” Cohen said, “and we’re always looking at new technology and methodology.”

The pistachio operation is part of Setton International Foods Inc., based in Commack, N.Y. Setton International is a full service provider of nuts, dried fruit, edible seed, chocolate and candy to the snack food industry.

The company had its beginnings in Brooklyn, N.Y., with brothers Joshua and Morris Setton.

 In 1986, Setton Pistachio was formed in California. In 1995 expansion for Setton Pistachio came with the acquisition in Terra Bella of what had been Dole Pistachios.