From Modesto


Almond Quality and Food Safety Discussed


On Tuesday, nearly 150 almond industry members attended the Almond Board of California’s symposium in Modesto.

Here are highlights of the discussions:

Scott Burnett, Ph.D. manager of corporate Quality and Safety for MOM Brands spoke about footwear hygiene to control any possible pathogens being transferred outside or from the incoming raw material side of hot and cold cereal manufacturing plants, to the rest of the plant.

Burnett noted that plants should let hygienic zoning serve as a guide. He said controls should be safe and validated for effectiveness. “Footwear hygiene goals should be attainable, measurable and improvable,” noted Burnett. “Also tread styles should be easy to clean without great effort.”

Burnett said the best sanitizers, as a shoe bath, are isopropyl alcohol (IPA)/ quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC).

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Trevor Suslow, Ph.D., UC Davis Dept. of Plant Sciences, shared insights on what the produce industry is doing about food safety standards. He said that almond growers should be aware of nearby sites such compost piles, or dairies.

He said adjacent land activities, soil amendments and animal intrusion can cause contamination of pathogens to move into market channels and sicken people.

Suslow also noted that Salmonella could persist in the dry soil for a long season. He said growers should always evaluate risks.


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Melinda Chen, Ph.D., a consumer safety officer at FDA/Center for food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

She spoke about FDA audited 43 different almond processing facilities and found a whole host of minor violations among the companies.  They wrote up Form 483 Action plans for 10 facilities.

“Most of the violations concerned Good Management Practices (GMP) among company employees,” noted Tim Birmingham with the Almond Board of California. “Most are fairly easy things for our industry to tackle,” he said.

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Themis Michailides, Ph.D.,  UC Plant Pathologist, based at the Kearney Ag Center in Parlier, spoke about the success of AF36 an atoxigenic strain of Aspergillus Flavus that is now being applied in pistachio orchards. This strain displaces the toxic strains of A. Flavus, which ultimately reduces Aflatoxin contamination in the orchard.

Michailides noted that 2013 is the second season that AF36 will be used in pistachio orchards. He said that research is now working on registrations in almond and fig orchards.

Michailides also reminded attendees about the roll of Navel Orangeworm in causing injury to almonds where A. Flavus begins to develop and start producing Aflatoxin.

He also noted that NOW adults could also bring in A. Flavus spores from one nut to another. He explained that larvae in mummy nuts also have A. Flavus attached to them. This is all the more reason to sanitize each winter to reduce the load of A. Flavus in the trees.

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