July 23, 2024

FDA Releases Report on Processed Avocado and Guacamole Sampling

The FDA has released its summary report on processed avocado and guacamole sampling, which estimates the prevalence of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes contamination in those products. This assignment is part of the FDA’s effort to proactively ensure food safety and prevent contaminated food from reaching consumers.

FDA Releases Report on Processed Avocado and Guacamole Sampling

In 2018, consumers were warned to wash avocados before peeling them after pathogens were found on the skin of the whole fruit. At that time, Listeria bacteria was found on 17.73% of the samples, while Salmonella was found on 0.74% of the samples.

For this assignment, the FDA collected and tested 887 samples of both domestic and imported processed avocado and guacamole. Salmonella was detected in two samples, which were distinct samples of the same brand of domestically manufactured guacamole. Neither of those samples had undergone high pressure processing (HPP) treatment, which is a kill step that is increasingly used by this industry to destroy pathogens.

Listeria monocytogenes was detected in 15 samples. Of those samples, eight had not received HPP treatment. The agency could not determine whether the other seven samples had received that treatment. Whole genome sequencing determined that there was either no linkage to any clinical illnesses, or that epidemiological information was inconclusive.

When a positive finding was found, the FDA tried to remove all affected product from the marketplace. These actions included refusing import shipments associated with positive products, and adding two foreign firms to the Import Alert 21-12. Import Alerts tell FDA field staff that the agency has enough evidence to allow for detention of products from those firms without physical examination.

The data also showed that the estimated prevalence of the pathogens in the non-HPP-treated samples was higher than in the HPP-treated samples. This indicates that HPP is an effective kill step. The FDA is continuing to sample processed avocado and guacamole for pathogens to protect consumers.

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