Processing

Immediately after harvest, raw cashews nuts are processed, which is fundamental to maintain their quality and properties. Farmers separate the drupe from the cashew apple to put them into sun-drying. These raw products are traded and then processed to obtain the cashew nut kernel.

Product packaging is fundamental to maintain its quality, specially to avoid product damage, deterioration or contamination. Appropriate packaging ensures a better quality and higher product value.

Further packaging, maintaining controller optimal storage conditions is essential to maintain the product properties. Discover more about cashew processing and download the Global Cashew Council Technical Information Kit.

Processing Cashew Fruit (Drupes) into Kernels

Generally the processing of raw cashew nuts into edible cashew kernel takes the following steps traditional method: roasting, shelling drying, peeling, grading, quality controls, fumigation and packaging. All these steps have to be conducted with care to obtain good quality and good grade kernels.

In order to ensure the quality requirements an avoid contamination of the cashew nuts, preparation takes place under clean, hygienic, and ideal conditions. The following aspects are cleaned regularly: equipment (tubes, knives, etc.), working and drying surfaces (racks, mats, etc.), personnel clothes, and preparing storage rooms.

This flow chart gives an overview of the steps involved in processing cashew nuts but does not include many of the additional steps shellers and processors may undertake.

 

Packaging

Bulk Packaging

Cashew kernels must be packed in such a way so as to protect the product properly. The materials used inside the package must be clean and of a quality such as to avoid causing any external or internal damage to the product. Cashew kernels must be packed in hermetically sealed containers. The use of materials, particularly paper or stamps bearing trade specifications, is allowed, provided the printing or labelling has been done with non-toxic ink or glue.

Transport Packaging

Transport packaging should be strong enough to protect the contents against damage by outside pressure.

The packaging is dimensioned to allow contents to be held firmly, but not too tight. The dimensions should be compatible with standard pallet and container dimensions.

Storage

Raw Cashew Nuts Inshell

After harvesting, cashew nuts are immediately place out in the sun to dry and are continuously mixed until the nuts in their shells get to around 8 to 10% rest moisture. Cashews inshell and kernel are stored in dry (<65% relative humidity), dark cool (<10 ºC/50ºF) and well-ventilated conditions.

Cashew Kernels

Cashew moisture should be maintained at 5% or less, exposure to strong odors avoided, and storage conditions should protect them from insects and pests.

It is prohibited to carry out chemical storage measures (e.g. gassing with methyl bromide) in mixed storage spaces. Wherever possible, storing both organic and conventional products together in the same warehouse should be avoided.

In fact, methyl bromide should never be used to fumigate cashews, as it causes chemical reaction in the nuts that results in a terrible sour milk-like off-flavor. It would be useful to include a cautionary statement in the storage section warning against fumigation of cashew drupes or kernels with methyl bromide, under any circumstances.

Quality Requirements

To ensure the safety of cashews, international growers and processors are setting a wide range of good practices. Cashews are produced with consideration for quality control and food safety international standards. Careful practices have been stablished to control the chemical, microbiological, pesticide and contaminant content.

Quality Assurance

 

The following programs are endorsed by the industry:

 

  • Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), which provide growers guidelines and principles to apply for on-farm production and post-production processed to provide safety and healthy cashews, minimizing potential hazards, such as patogens, contaminants, and pest management materials.
  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which define procedures to be used in the processing, packaging, storing and transport stages by handlers to ensure the quality of the product. GMPs are used by handlers to treat cashews under the best sanitary conditions.
  • Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), which provides a systematic preventive approach to food safety that identifies, assesses and controls the risk of biological, chemical and physical hazards in production processes.
Chemical and microbiological parameters

Aproximate Quality Characteristics

Chemical
Moisture Max 5%
Free Fatty Acids < 0,7%
Peroxide Value < 1 meq/kg
Microbiological
Total Plate Count < 10,000 cfu/g
Yeast and Mould < 500 cfu/g
Enterobacteria < 10 cfu/g
Coliforms < 10 cfu/g
E.Coli Not measurable
Salmonella Negative in 25 g
Staphylococcus aureus < 100 cfu/g
Streptococcus < 100 cfu/g

Contaminants

Although aflatoxins have a low incidence on cashews, they can occur.

International MLs for aflatoxins in ready-to-eat cashews

Country
Aflatoxin
B1 (ppb)
Total aflatoxins
(B1 - B2 - G1 - G2) (ppb)
Source
Australia 15 Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code - Standard 1.4.1
Brazil 10 Resoluçao Nº7 de 18 de fevereiro de 2011, Ministério da Salude da Brazil
EU 2 4 Commision Regulation (EU) Nº 165/2010
India 10 Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
USA 20 U.S. Food and Drug Administration Compliance Policy Guides (CPG) Sec. 555.400