April 27, 2018

FDA Evaluating Salmonella Risk in Tree Nuts

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting comments, data, and other information for an assessment of the risk of Salmonella associated with tree nut consumption. Public health officials are trying to quantify the risk associated with tree nuts and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to prevent contamination.

Harvesting AlmondsThere have been several outbreaks and many recalls of tree nuts for Salmonella contamination in the past 12 years. In 2001, raw whole almonds contaminated with the bacteria were linked to a Salmonella Enteriditis outbreak that sickened 11 in the U.S. and 157 in Canada. In 2003, the same bacteria in whole raw almonds sickened 29 people in 12 states and one province in Canada. In February 2013, an appeals court ruled that the USDA can required pasteurization of raw almonds after that outbreak, a contentious step that many almond growers do not like. And in 2011, a multistate Salmonella outbreak was linked to imported Turkish pine nuts that sickened 43 people in 5 states.

In just the past few months, ARO pistachios have been recalled for possible Salmonella contamination, and hazelnuts were recalled in Canada for the same problem. Mixed nuts were also recalled in Canada in December 2012 for possible contamination with the pathogenic bacteria.

The Salmonella bacteria have been found in almonds, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts in recent years. This assessment will hopefully be useful for operators of tree nut processing plants in reducing the risk of contamination.

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