F.D.A. concerned about tree nut safety

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration has issued a request for comments, scientific data and information related to the risk of human salmonellosis associated with the consumption of tree nuts.

“The purpose of the risk assessment will be to quantify the public health risk associated with the consumption of potentially Salmonella-contaminated tree nuts and to evaluate the impact of risk-based preventive controls on the risk of human salmonellosis arising from consumption of tree nuts,” the agency said in its proposal.

The agency said almonds, coconut and pine nuts all have been associated with outbreaks of salmonellosis. In addition, Salmonella contamination has been found in almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamia, walnuts and pistachios.

Noting that the exact sequence of events leading to salmonellosis outbreaks from tree nuts is not fully understood, the F.D.A. said one aspect of the risk assessment will be to determine where contamination is likely to occur.

Specific topics that the F.D.A. would like to receive comments and data on include Salmonella contamination in different tree nuts sampled at harvest, distribution, retail, or anywhere else in the supply chain; Salmonella survival, growth or inactivation dynamics in different tree nuts during transportation and storage; current food consumption practices in the United States associated with tree nuts; storage, handling and processing conditions that may affect Salmonella survival, growth, or inactivation along the farm-to-fork continuum and the impact of these conditions on Salmonella concentrations on tree nuts; and Other comments, including the types of tree nuts that should be evaluated in this risk assessment and information about which types of tree nuts may enter the U.S. market without the application of treatments designed to reduce bacterial contamination.

Electronic comments and data may be submitted to www.regulations.gov, and written comments may be sent to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA–305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, room 1061, Rockville, Md. 20852.

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