Cuervo Pliego, Mary (2012-02). Comparison of Current Almond Pasteurization Methods and Electron Beam Irradiation as an Alternative. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Two outbreaks of salmonellosis were linked to the consumption of raw California almonds in 2001 and 2004. Current federal regulations mandate that all almonds grown in California are to be treated with a process that results in a 4-log reduction of Salmonella. Since four out of the five approved technologies to pasteurize almonds rely on the application of heat to control Salmonella, the evaluation of alternative technologies against heat resistant Salmonella Senftenberg was imminent. In this study, almonds that were inoculated with S. Enteritidis PT 30 and S. Senftenberg, were treated with electron beam irradiation (e-beam), blanching and oil roasting. The thermal death time (D-value) for S. Enteritidis PT 30 when treated with e-beam was 0.90 kGy, 15 s when subjected to blanching at 88 degrees C, and 13 s when treated with oil at 127 degrees C. Irradiation and thermal resistance of S. Senftenberg was not significantly different (P > 0.05) from S. Enteritidis PT 30. The commercial application of e-beam as a pathogen intervention was assessed through Monte Carlo simulations (MCS) and experimental measurements. The sensory characteristics of almonds commercially treated by e-beam, blanching and roasting were assessed by a consumer panel. Irradiated and blanched almonds did not differ in consumer overall like (P > 0.05). Bitterness and rancidity attributes of irradiated almonds were between a "dislike slightly" and "dislike moderately", whereas blanched and roasted almonds were between "neither like nor dislike" and "like slightly". Almonds commercially irradiated, blanched and roasted were subjected to an accelerated shelf-life test (ASLT) evaluating percentage free fatty acids, peroxide value, and 2-thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARs). No clear differences between treatments were observed at any given point in time in any of the chemical tests. A gas chromatography-mass-spectrometry-olfactometry (MDGC-MS-O) technology was used to compare full aroma and flavor profiles from raw and e-beam irradiated almonds. Differences in the aroma/odor profile and the taste analysis revealed that the difference between raw and irradiated almonds is extremely subtle. In conclusion, e-beam may be a feasible technology to control Salmonella in almonds if used at low doses, as a part of a series of interventions.

publication date

  • December 2011