WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on March 10 issued safety guidelines for companies that use a peanut-derived product as an ingredient in a food product and said it may seize products that test positive for Salmonella. The action comes in response to an outbreak linked to foods made by the Peanut Corporation of America that has contributed to nine deaths, more than 650 illnesses and 3,235 product recalls.
"We are issuing this guidance because recent outbreaks indicate the potential for foodborne illness resulting from the consumption of foods containing peanut-derived products if a peanut-derived product used as an ingredient is contaminated with Salmonella species," the F.D.A. said.
In its guidance, the F.D.A. said operators of retail and food service establishments should not assume that routine food preparation processes will render products safe for sale to the consumer. The F.D.A. added that the presence of Salmonella may depend on whether an ingredient with a very low water activity is rehydrated or what the highest temperature is in the coldest part of the product during the baking process and the actual duration that the product experienced that temperature.
Because the procedures used to make finished products may not adequately reduce the presence of Salmonella, the F.D.A. urged food manufacturers to buy peanut-derived products "only from suppliers with validated processes in place to adequately reduce the presence of Salmonella species."
The F.D.A. also indicated that the most reliable way to determine whether a manufacturing process would reduce the presence of Salmonella in a food product containing a peanut-derived product is to conduct a scientific study to determine the death rate of Salmonella species in the product using microbiological challenge studies.
The full guidance is available at www.cfsan.fda.gov.