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FSANZ warning follows salmonella outbreak in raw almonds

By Joe Whitworth , 23-Oct-2012

An outbreak of salmonella in raw almonds has been linked to 27 cases of foodborne illness in six states and territories, said FSANZ.

It has led the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to urge consumers to check their pantries as the products are often bought and then stored for later use.

Melanie Fisher, FSANZ deputy chief executive officer, said state, territory and federal government authorities were investigating the outbreak of salmonella gastroenteritis associated with some batches of the almonds supplied by Select Harvests.

“The food recalls were notified earlier this month but we want to ensure consumers are carefully checking their pantries as packaged raw almonds are often bought to use later,” she said.

Fisher said consumers should check the brand of almonds in their pantry and if the product had been recalled they should either dispose of it or return packets to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Affected products

The products were sold as Woolworths Almond Kernels (with best before dates of 05/02/13; 06/04/13; 07/04/13; 12/04/13) at Woolworths, Safeway, Food for Less, and Flemings Supermarkets.

Flannerys Own Almonds in 500gm and 1kg zip-lock sealed pouch (with best before dates between 02/07/13 and 05/10/13) were sold at Natural and Organic Supermarkets, affecting 10 stores in South East Queensland.

Woolworths issued a national recall on 4 October and Flannerys issued a recall in Queensland, Australia on 10 October.

Raw almonds can be identified by the brown skin on the outside of the almond.

Roasted almonds and processed almonds e.g. blanched almonds, almond slivers and processed product containing almonds, are not affected by these recalls.

Select Harvests response

Select Harvests, based in Victoria, Australia, said the recall was initiated after laboratory testing identified the presence of salmonella.

Since that time extensive testing has been conducted which indicates that the source of potential contamination is isolated to some almonds from one farm. Additional precautionary and voluntary recalls of some products to a number of small, independent, customers have been made.

“The potential for contamination is rare and localised and abnormally wet conditions can be a contributing factor.

“Select Harvests is well progressed with plans to offer customers pasteurised almonds. Pasteurising equipment was ordered earlier in the year and is expected to be operational in the New Year. In the interim the company is in discussions to secure third party pasteurising capacity.”

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