Almond Board of California’s proposal to create a mandatory pasteurization program to eliminate the potential for salmonella bacteria in California almonds is one step closer to reality.

After two years of research and consultation involving California’s annual $2.5 billion almond industry, the plan is designed to negate future chances of California almond-caused salmonella outbreaks.

For handlers who are shipping raw almonds directly into consumer channels whether to a retailer or a manufacturer who repacks them, the almonds must be pasteurized before leaving the handling facility.

Two exceptions would exist: unpasteurized almonds shipped directly to a manufacturer in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico with the manufacturer having submitted an application and qualified for direct verifiable user status by the Almond Board; and unpasteurized almonds shipped to other export markets. Cartons, bins, and boxes would require unpasteurized labeling under the exceptions.

The ABC will conduct compliance visits with additional help by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspection service.