Update on Raw Almond Controversy

The Almond Board of California has rejected a proposal from the Cornucopia Institute, which would have modified the mandate requiring that all almonds be pasteurized. Cornucopia‘s proposal called for a warning or advisory label to be placed on unpasteurized almonds, alerting consumers to the difference.

This proposal would have allowed for the continued availability of raw almonds in the marketplace, while alerting at-risk consumers that there might be some increased danger of pathogenic disease from eating untreated nuts.

A number of growers have reported unexpected increases in processing and transportation costs related to the new requirements, and one organic almond farmer told Cornucopia that he has lost $450,000 in sales due to the new rule.

In late November, staff from Cornucopia will go to Washington, D.C. to meet with the USDA Undersecretary Bruce Knight to discuss the issue. Should that fail to produce results, Cornucopia expects to head into federal court and seek a judicial remedy.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture shocked health-seeking Americans by announcing it would require virtually all almonds to be “pasteurized” by September 1, 2007, after a couple of salmonella outbreaks in 2001 and 2004 were traced back to raw almonds.

As I’ve reported previously, not only are you losing yet another healthy whole food source, but that very fact is also being hidden from you through the approved use of false labeling, by allowing treated almonds to be labeled and sold as “raw.”

Raw nuts contain mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, meaning these are actually better fats for cholesterol health. And they have zero trans fats (one of the bad fats) as long as they’re processed properly (such as dehydration, NOT pasteurization).

Almonds in particular are rich in phytochemicals; plant components that promote heart and vascular health. Just one handful (one and one-half ounce) of almonds is a leading source of vitamin E and magnesium and contains:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron

Pasteurized almonds, however, are neither “raw” nor healthy.

Even the use of the term “pasteurized” is used in a misleading way, because according to the Almond Board of California (ABC), no heating is used during the pasteurization process, but rather a process referred to by the FDA as “terminal gas sterilization” with propylene oxide.

Propylene oxide is a highly toxic flammable chemical compound, once used as a racing fuel before it became prohibited for safety reasons. It is also used in thermobaric weapons. It is an epoxide, which is not GRAS (generally recognized as safe for human ingestion).

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) site has this to say about propylene oxide:

Dermal contact, even with dilute solutions, has caused skin irritation and necrosis in humans. Propylene oxide is also a mild central nervous system (CNS) depressant in humans… Propylene oxide has been observed to cause tumors at or near the site of administration in rodents, causing forestomach tumors following ingestion via gavage (experimentally placing the chemical in the stomach) and nasal tumors after inhalation exposure.  EPA has classified propylene oxide as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen.

And yet you’re told these propylene oxide-treated almonds are no different from raw almonds! Don’t be fooled by such blatant misinformation.

If you would like to support Cornucopia in their efforts to protect your right to buy healthy, raw almonds, you can download a proxy letter and mail it back to Cornucopia. The proxy, along with other background materials, can be found at the Authentic Almond Project link on their site www.cornucopia.org.

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