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Nuts and nut products

Nuts have traditionally been considered a microbiologically safe product because of their low moisture content (low water activity). However, there have been a number of documented foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls caused by Salmonella in nuts and nut products.

This survey was conducted to gather information on the prevalence of Salmonella and E. coli in ready-to-eat (RTE) nuts and their products sold in Australia, both imported and domestically produced products.

Between January and June 2011, a total of 915 samples were collected from retailers, manufacturers and growers in New South Wales (NSW), the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Queensland (QLD), Tasmania (TAS), and Western Australia (WA).

Products sampled included pre-packaged and unpackaged, plain and salted nuts and nut products such as flavoured nuts, bars, spreads and sauces.

Excluded were items where nuts were not the major component such as breakfast cereals, dairy products, chocolate covered nuts, fruit and nut mix, and seeds and seed products such as pine nuts.

Nut types included almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, mixed nuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.

Survey results

  • the survey found that the microbiological quality of nuts and nut products in Australia is generally very good
  • only one sample of unpackaged macadamia nut as categorised as potentially dangerous due to the presence of Salmonella Aberdeen
  • a follow up sampling of another unpackaged macadamias sample from the same retailer was negative for Salmonella.

Full results are available in:

Table of contents
Executive summary
- Nut cultivation in Australia and New Zealand
- Microbiological issues
- Outbreaks and recalls
- Previous studies
Survey objectives
ISC coordinated food survey
Sample collection
Method of analysis
Results and discussion
Apendices 1-5

Appendix 6 raw data, 828kB