This review discusses the influence of processing on the microbial risk associated with Salmonella in Rooibos tea, the identification of Salmonella and preventative and control measures to control microbial contamination. Rooibos tea, like other plant products, naturally contains a high microbial load. Downstream processing steps of these products usually help in reducing any contaminants present. Due to the delicate flavour properties and nature of Rooibos, gentle processing techniques are necessary for the production of good quality tea. However, this has a major influence on the microbiological status of the product. The presence of Salmonella in Rooibos is poorly understood. The ubiquitous distribution of Salmonella in the natural environment and its prevalence in the global food chain, the physiological adaptability, virulence of the bacterial pathogen and its serious economic impact on the food industry, emphasises the need for continued awareness and stringent controls at all levels of food production. With the advances of technology and information at hand, the processing of Rooibos needs to be re-evaluated. Since the delicate nature of Rooibos prohibits the use of harsh methods to control Salmonella, alternative methods for the steam pasteurisation of Rooibos show great potential to control Salmonella in a fast, efficient and cost-effective manner. These alternative methods will significantly improve the microbiological quality of Rooibos and provide a product that is safe to consumers.
Keywords: Rooibos tea; Salmonella; aspalathus linearis; fermentation; microbial risk.
© 2014 Society of Chemical Industry.