India is a growing market for dry nuts. The country has a large population and a growing middle class, which is leading to an increase in demand for plant-based vegan diet especially cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. Dry nuts exporters in India are catering to this demand by offering a variety of products, including raw, roasted, and seasoned nuts.
According to various sources, most dry nuts are consumed in their raw form. As raw dry nuts can be a source of harmful bacteria, pasteurization is a critical step in ensuring that they are safe to eat. What is Nut Pasteurization? Pasteurization is a process that involves heating food to a specific temperature and holding it at that temperature for a specific period to destroy pathogens and reduce microbial load. The temperature and time requirements depend on the type of food being pasteurized and the target pathogens.
A 5 Log validation refers to a microbial reduction process that achieves 5 logarithms of reduction in pathogens. The term "log" is short for logarithm, which is a mathematical function used to represent exponential changes. In the context of microbial reduction, a "log reduction" indicates a tenfold decrease in the number of viable microorganisms.
Currently, Hot water treatment is a commonly used method for pasteurizing tree nuts, but it can be difficult to ensure that the nuts reach the required temperature and time to kill harmful bacteria. This has led to questions about the effectiveness of hot water treatment for nut pasteurization. Hot water treatment alone may not transfer enough heat to reach the desired temperature throughout the nut.
To ensure effective pasteurization, alternative methods such as dry heat steam pasteurization are used for nuts. These methods can achieve the necessary temperature and duration to eliminate pathogens while minimizing any potential impact on the quality of the nuts. By achieving Log 5+ validation, nut processors can show that their products meet these standards and are safe to eat.
There have been multi-city Salmonella outbreaks on Nuts industry which leads to strict Food safety compliance. In 2020, a multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium and S. Anatum infections linked to Brazil nuts was reported. In 2016, an outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo and Salmonella Senftenberg infections linked to pistachios was reported. In 2011, an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections linked to Turkish pine nuts was reported. After facing various foods Borne illness, Pasteurization is strictly followed in export businesses to ensure product safety and avoid recalls. Surface pasteurization treatment for tree nuts is becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide due to factors such as responsible business practices, liability mitigation, and regulatory compliance. In the USA, federal law mandates pasteurization of almonds. The European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit, Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit and Vegetables, Processed Fishery Products, Spices, Honey and Similar Foodstuffs (FRUCOM) and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) also follows strict rules which import dry nuts.
India is the world's largest consumer and exporter of cashew nuts among all other treenuts. The value addition and e-commerce platforms have further boosted the growth of local consumption of cashew nuts worldwide. The sweet and confectionery industry, and the hotel, restaurant, and catering (HORECA) segments are also driving the demand. The sudden growth in import and export of dry nuts has led Indian nut processors to consider pasteurization technologies. They understand the importance of eliminating harmful microorganisms like Salmonella and E. coli. However, processors are concerned about compromising the organoleptic and nutritional quality of the nuts.
Laitram Machinery is a US-based Food Process automation company that manufactures nut processing equipment. We have done extensive research on the food safety challenges faced by tree nut processors and developed Laitram CoolSteam Blue, a nut pasteurization system. We have successfully installed over 40 nut pasteurization lines worldwide. Our equipment is approved by the Almond Board of California (Almond TERP) and has a proven track record of reliability. It is also simple, flexible, and easy to operate. Laitram's nut pasteurization technology has been proven on various nuts, including almonds, pistachios, seeds, walnuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans. Overall, pasteurization is a promising technology for improving the safety of dry nuts.
However, processors need to carefully consider the benefits and challenges of pasteurization before implementing it. Read the comprehensive guide by Laitram Machinery for nut pasteurization: https://www.laitrammachinery.com/are-all-nuts-pasteurized