As of September 2007, the USDA requires that almonds sold in the US must be pasteurized to eliminate pathogens. That’s right, pasteurized, like what you do to milk.
This evidently happened as a result of a salmonella outbreak which got about 100 Canadians sick.
There are three ways of complying with the new law which producers may choose from:
- pasteurize in the traditional manner, with high heat (“cook”);
- treat with propylene oxide, which is an ex-racecar fuel that was banned from that purpose because it causes cancer (this substance is banned in Canada, Mexico, and the EU);
- steam-treat the almonds, which is what many organic farmers are going for.
The best part about this whole deal is that they’re going to continue marketing and labeling as if nothing had changed, and the almonds were still in fact raw. As you may suspect, I think this is somewhere between disingenuous and a big fat lie.
The argument put forth for why this is a legitimate thing to do:
To date, experts evaluating quality and sensory characteristics have noted no
significant or meaningful differences between pasteurized and unpasteurized
– almond action plan