Comment period extended for Salmonella and tree nut risk assessment

Nuts_blogThose wishing to comment on a planned risk assessment regarding Salmonella in tree nuts now have more time to do so.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended the comment period for the assessment from the original date of Oct. 16 to Dec. 16, 2013 after the agency received extension requests to allow interested parties more time to provide input. The call for comments and data originally was published in the Federal Register in July.

The goal of the risk assessment is to investigate the public health risk surrounding the consumption of tree nuts potentially contaminated with Salmonella and to look at the effectiveness of risk-based preventive measures. It then will help steer FDA policy in regard to tree nuts while also providing additional insight for producers on how to better prevent Salmonella contamination.

In the last decade, there have been several Salmonella outbreaks linked to tree nuts, including almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pistachios and hazelnuts, according to the Federal Register notice.

Although tree nuts often have too low of a moisture content to allow bacteria to flourish, even low levels of pathogenic microorganisms still can cause illnesses, such as salmonellosis. Tree nuts also pose a unique challenge as experts also believe the high fat content in tree nuts may help shield pathogens from digestive acids in the stomach and therefore allowing the pathogen to make its way into the intestine and cause illness, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

For more information on how to submit comments and for more information, click here.

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