An almond grower’s in-season food safety program can be swiftly undone if steps are not taken to minimize the potential for contamination at or after harvest. Take time to review these practices before harvest begins.
• Harvest equipment. Be sure pick-up machines are clean and sanitized and have not been used in an orchard where manure or compost was applied after Jan. 1.
• Transportation equipment. Inspect trailers and containers to be sure they are dry and free of visible debris, dirt, other nutmeats and any odors. Be sure that they have not been used to transport materials from animal operations, and in particular, have not hauled waste or manure.
• Bins. During storage, bins can become contaminated. Even though bin liners are used, bins should be thoroughly cleaned before harvest. Bin liners protect the product well, but contamination could occur if the liner falls out when bins are rotated upside down to empty them, allowing contaminants to fall into the hopper. To clean and sanitize bins:
— Tip bins upside down and sweep out debris. Clean with a pressure washer.
— Use clean, potable water and add a sanitizer as an extra precaution.
— Clean bins outside to avoid spreading contaminants.
— Allow the bins to dry in the sun.
— Always use a liner.