Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
CPG Sec. 570.550 Reconditioning - Tree Nuts Contaminated with E. coli
We occasionally receive requests for reconditioning of tree nuts contaminated with E. coli by gas infusion with propylene oxide. This is not an acceptable means of reconditioning products contaminated with E. coli.
Our experience in inspecting tree nut processors has led us to the conclusion that if nuts are handled properly, following good sanitation procedures, E. coli should not be present. The presence of E. coli in tree nuts is an indication that the nutmeats were processed under insanitary conditions and constitutes a violation of sections 402(a)(3) and 402(a)(4) of the act. The only way to bring such nuts into compliance is to *kill the E. coli and* physically remove the filth, such as by washing with water containing sufficient chlorine to prevent the multiplication of the bacteria while the nuts are wet and subject to bacterial growth.
Killing of E. coli in tree nuts by gas infusion or other means is not acceptable as a method of reconditioning, because the E. coli is an indicator of the presence of fecal material and/or of insanitary processing conditions *which must also be remedied.*
Acceptable means of reconditioning must *address removal of the filth from the nuts as well as killing of the E. coli.*
*Material between asterisks is new or revised.*