In the past people have considered that low moisture foods are safe to eat without any problem due to their low water activity and inability to support microbial growth. Recently over the past two decades however, low moisture products such as nuts, seeds and spices are increasingly been associated with product recalls and food-borne outbreaks due to contamination by pathogens such as Salmonella spp. and Escherichia coli.
The awareness of the potential of nuts and seeds as vehicles for transmission of pathogens has also risen due to several reported cases of food poisoning and product recalls publicised in the media.
In order to ensure the safety of imported food products generally, there are steps taken prior to importation at the country of origin, at the point of entry into the country receiving the products and beyond. Among such steps is conducting microbial and chemical analysis of samples of the product at the point of entry to assess safety of the product.
While port-of-entry inspections to detect microbial and non microbial contaminants help to flag a few potential hazards in the imported products, relying on this one-step does not ensure the safety of the food product nor does it address the potential for contamination that may go undetected. In addition to port-of-entry inspection, there is a varying degree of quality assurance operating upon business to business level. At ALRIFAI we conduct process validation and challenge studies to ensure that our thermal process is sufficient to reduce/eliminate potential microbial hazards that may be present in the product.
Maintaining food safety along the supply chain can be very challenging as food safety problems may arise at any stage of the supply chain. ALRIFAI is aware that problems may arise at the farm or processing facility. Providing a safe supply chain becomes even more challenging especially for imported products that are sourced from a diversity of small farms around the world. When a processing stage fails, food safety hazards may eventually be passed on to the end of the supply chain, hence it is important to bridge the gap between all stakeholders in the supply chain for safe, hygienically processed and handled food materials.
Contaminations of nuts and seeds most likely occur on the farms and without adequate processing to mitigate the presence of food safety hazards at the early stage of the supply chain, there is a potential for contamination of the final product. Thats why we work careful with our farmers to minimize food safety at the farm stage