The nut industry has been rocked in recent years by major product recalls due to Salmonella contamination. The 2008-2009 Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) incident left hundreds ill, caused nine deaths and led to the recall of more than 2,800 products! Almonds, pistachios, pecans and hazelnuts have also been targeted for recall.
In response, the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association (GMA) formed the Nut Safety Task Force in April 2009. This group consisted of 44 food safety professionals split into six working groups. The task force included members from major food companies such as Kraft, Kellogg’s, Mars, General Mills and Diamond Foods. I was privileged to represent the American Council for Food Safety and Quality / Dried Fruit Association (ACFSQ/DFA) on the task force along with representatives from the almond, walnut, pistachio, pecan and peanut industries. After five months of work, the “Industry Handbook for the Safe Processing of Nuts” was born!
GMA describes the handbook as “a tool chest of guidance material for all of the nut industry.” The FDA, which reviewed the handbook, believes that the practices it describes will greatly improve the safety of nuts. In February 2010, the California Walnut Board voted to adopt the handbook as its food safety guideline for handlers.
With more than 212 pages, the handbook details Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), environmental monitoring, process validations and sanitary design principles. In summary, it is a “one-stop” reference for the core food safety programs necessary for processing in the 21st century. Best of all, this invaluable resource is FREE! To download your copy, visit the GMA website at: http://www.gmaonline.org/science/index.cfm
Staff Contact: Tom Jones