The California Almond Board recently requested an extension on a September 1, 2007 requirement that all California almonds be pasteurized before sale, stating that not all almond growers had the ability to get necessary equipment and processes i place to avoid an interruption in the almond supply. Monday, USDA denied the request. In a statement, deputy administrator for USDA’s fruit and vegetable programs, Robert Keeney, stated:
While we understand the Board’s concerns, USDA also wants to ensure that the quality and safety of almonds and almond products in the marketplace continue to improve. These goals require measures to help reduce the potential of a third Salmonella outbreak linked to almonds.
As of September 1, USDA will require all almond producers to treat their almonds with a burst of steam, which will kill any pathogens, or to use a sterilization process involving sending almonds into a chamber where they are sprayed with a gas that kills pathogens.
Read more about the USDA’s decision at Businessweek.com.