U.S. hazelnut industry embraces food safety

I had chopped hazelnuts on my bagged salad of romaine lettuce left over from a TV interview for lunch today (right, not exactly as shown). It was yummy, but after reading Oregon’s Capital Press, I wondered, why do all these food groups wait until a problem is discovered to become born-again about food safety?

Last September, three months before the Food and Drug Administration found salmonella in an Oregon hazelnut processing plant, the hazelnut industry met to address food safety.

Why wasn’t it 10 years ago?

Polly Owen, manager of the Hazelnut Industry Office, said the discovery of salmonella in December at Willamette Shelling in Newberg, Ore., was a wake-up call.

In a recent report to the Oregon Board of Agriculture, Owen said the industry is taking a two-pronged approach to ensuring hazelnuts are safe.

The first involves developing good handling and management practices.

The second involves educating growers and processors on safety measures.

Who knows if any of this will be effective without follow-up, verification, and food safety assistance for growers and processors.