Same as other nuts: Salmonella in pecans

In-shell pecan samples (500 g) were collected over four harvest seasons (2010 to 2014) from seven pecan shelling facilities located in five U.S. states.

pecanFour varieties of pecans were analyzed: Mexican Improved, Native Seedlings, Southern Improved, and Western Improved. Pecan samples (100 g) were sent to a third party laboratory for initial Salmonella screening. When a sample was positive for Salmonella, the pathogen level was determined by the most-probable-number (MPN) method (25, 2.5, and 0.25 g). Two sample preparation strategies were used for the MPN analysis, and both strategies were combined for the reported MPN values. Forty-four (0.95%) of 4,641 in-shell pecan samples were positive for Salmonella during initial screening; prevalence by year was 0.47 to 1.4%. Prevalence was not significantly different between varieties: Mexican Improved, 1.2%; Native/Seedling, 0.99%; Southern Improved, 0.97%; and Western Improved, 0.75%. Salmonella was not isolated from 31 of 44 samples upon retesting during MPN analysis (<0.47 MPN/100 g). When Salmonella was detected, the levels were 0.47 to 39 MPN/100 g, with a mean of 2.4 MPN/100 g. Thirty-one Salmonella serotypes were obtained from 42 Salmonella-positive pecan samples; Enteritidis was the most common (12% of samples) followed by Javiana (9%) and Braenderup (7%). All Salmonella Enteritidis isolates were phage type 8. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis (XbaI) revealed within-serotype diversity, indicating introduction of contamination from a variety of sources. Most (64%) of the isolates were resistant to streptomycin or tetracycline, and 13% were resistant to three or more antibiotics. 

Salmonella prevalence and level on in-shell pecans is comparable to that on other nuts.

Prevalence, Level, and Types of Salmonella Isolated from North American In-Shell Pecans over Four Harvest Years

Journal of Food Protection, Number 3, March 2016, Pages 352-360, DOI:

K. Brar, L. K. Strawn, and M. D. Danyluk

Keep poop out of the orchard

At barfblog we’re all about community-generated content. It’s fun when someone emails with a food safety-related story or a picture for us to share.  Today’s content comes from a colleague and avid barfblog groupie who was driving through southern Georgia this morning and snapped the picture at right.

The pictured sign is posted at the entrance of a pecan and peanut company’s roadside market/shop. All I know about this unidentified business is that it distributes stuff like raw, roasted and nut products all over the U.S. 

Sure, it’s a good idea to keep dogs out of the food area of a store, but suggesting to take a walk in the orchard, an equally important food area, is kind of weird.

To me, it seems like the producer should be thinking their orchard is a food area as well. Sure, it’s really tough to control birds, deer and feral pigs, but inviting dogs to take a dump in the orchard (something that is controllable) probably isn’t a good idea.  In the climate of uncertainty around the effectiveness of pathogen reduction strategies in the nut industry, it’s an especially bad idea.

Keep the dog poop out of the orchard.