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  RELATED INFORMATION
Good Manufacturing Practices
Managing Stockpiles
Pasteurization
Voluntary Aflatoxin Sampling Plan
FQ+S Symposium Recap
USDA Standards and Grades

Food Quality and Safety

The purpose of the Almond Board of California Food Quality and Safety Program (FQSP) is to strengthen the industry’s commitment to produce almonds in a safe, responsible manner, and to provide consumers around the world with the highest level of confidence in our product. Almond associated outbreaks of Salmonella, aflatoxin rejections in Europe and other food safety issues, such as a rising concern for allergens, have elevated the level of concern for almonds.

Management practices to minimize the risk of contamination on almonds extend from the orchard through hulling, processing, packaging and delivery of the finished product to the consumer. Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) provide guidelines to growers on how to minimize potential hazards during production and harvesting of almonds. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) define procedures to be used by handlers to process, pack, store and distribute almonds under sanitary conditions. Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) ensure a clean and sanitary environment in the processing facility. Together, these programs provide a framework for a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program by proactively eliminating or minimizing potential sources of contamination.

The Almond Board of California works closely with university specialists and has consulted with state and federal regulators to develop almond specific GAPs for almond growers and GMPs for processors. These documents are constantly being evaluated and updated.

As an additional line of defense against potential microbial contamination, the almond industry has adopted new outgoing quality standards that call for a pasteurization treatment of all almonds destined for North American markets.

Aflatoxin has become a more critical issue for the almond industry with the high cost of rejected shipments to the EU, which has a very low established tolerance for aflatoxin. In response, the Almond Board of California developed a Voluntary Aflatoxin Sampling Program (VASP) that provides guidelines for testing and certification of shipments to the EU using EU standards.

The implementation of these management practices at the farm and manufacturing level will help minimize the risk of all hazards. At the farm level, GAPs focus on reducing – rather than eliminating – the sources of potential contamination. Elimination of all potential risks is not practical. For huller/shellers and handlers, food safety and quality are a function of a comprehensive food safety management system made up of GMPs, SSOPs and a carefully implemented Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program.

A FQSP should not be viewed as a one-time effort, but rather as part of an industry wide commitment to an ongoing process. As research is completed and analyzed, as new food safety concerns are highlighted, and as safer practices for the orchard and the factory are identified, our FQSP will be updated.

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