Assessment of the Microbiological Safety of Edible Roasted Nut Kernels on Retail Sale in England, with a Focus on Salmonella

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There is little published information on the prevalence of Salmonella in edible nut kernels. A study in early 2008 of edible roasted nut kernels on retail sale in England was undertaken to assess the microbiological safety of this product. A total of 727 nut kernel samples of different varieties were examined. Overall, Salmonella and Escherichia coli were detected from 0.2 and 0.4% of edible roasted nut kernels. Of the nut varieties examined, Salmonella Havana was detected from 1 (4.0%) sample of pistachio nuts, indicating a risk to health. The United Kingdom Food Standards Agency was immediately informed, and full investigations were undertaken. Further examination established the contamination to be associated with the pistachio kernels and not the partly opened shells. Salmonella was not detected in other varieties tested (almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts). E. coli was found at low levels (range of 3.6 to 4/g) in walnuts (1.4%), almonds (1.2%), and Brazils (0.5%). The presence of Salmonella is unacceptable in edible nut kernels. Prevention of microbial contamination in these products lies in the application of good agricultural, manufacturing, and storage practices together with a hazard analysis and critical control points system that encompass all stages of production, processing, and distribution.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Gastrointestinal, Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK 2: London Food, Water and Microbiological Services Laboratory, Health Protection Agency Regional Microbiology Network, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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