Following NaturalNews's original story about the Almond Board of California launching plans to falsely label pasteurized almonds as raw, the organization changed its story in emails being sent to consumers, and now claims the rules have nothing to do with the actual labeling of almonds.
When NaturalNews first contacted the Almond Board of California on April 4th, we received a letter from the organization that stated, "As is the case with many other foods treated for safety, raw almonds that have been pasteurized do not differ in any significant way from untreated raw almonds, and therefore are still sold as "raw" under Food & Drug Administration (FDA) labeling regulations."
After our story ran, the Almond Board changed its response to consumer emails. The new response is a direct contradiction of their original letter and now states, "We understand there have been questions whether the industry pasteurization program has consumer labeling implications. These new industry regulations do not pertain to consumer labeling. Manufacturers and retailers will continue to determine how to label their products in line with FDA regulations."
My own interview notes, recorded on April 4th in a phone conversation with the Almond Board's Marsha Venable include the following quote, verbatim:
"The almond board understands there is an outcry, but we maintain that the quality of the [pasteurized] almond is substantially the same as it is raw."
It seems as if the Almond Board of California, now feeling the heat from consumers who are becoming increasingly informed about the issue, is stepping back from its original position, or at least rephrasing it in more pleasing language. Notice that there is still no statement whatsoever from the Almond Board that says these pasteurized almonds will be accurately labeled as "pasteurized". The organization simply claims the almonds will be labeled, "in line with FDA regulations." Of course, those regulations may or may not be honest.
Why won't the Almond Board of California simply announce that pasteurized almonds will be labeled "pasteurized?" Why is this simple truth such a difficult thing for the organization to publicly support?
For your reference, here are the two letters received from the Almond Board of California: One on April 4th, and the second modified version on April 6th. (Bolding has been added for emphasis.)
April 4th letter from the Almond Board
The Almond Board of California, representing the California almond industry, has consumers’ health and safety as its number one priority as it implements an industry-wide pasteurization program. The purpose of this plan is to ensure that consumers are provided with safe, wholesome food products.
ABC, which spends more than $2 million annually on nutrition and food safety research, is proactively addressing the issues and needs of the consumer. The industry participated in a public process while creating this plan, inviting input and addressing the concerns expressed by consumers, customers and industry members. The process included a public comment period, managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA considered all comments before making the pasteurization rule final.
Since 2004, there has been extensive discussion, consultation with leading food safety experts, and consensus building resulting in this almond industry pasteurization program to meet its responsibility to consumers to provide the safest, healthiest product possible. The ABC understands consumers choose almonds for taste as well as for health reasons. The industry invested in independent nutritional and sensory analyses of pasteurized versus unpasteurized almonds. Those evaluations did not reveal any degradation of the taste, quality or nutritional value of treated almonds.
As is the case with many other foods treated for safety, raw almonds that have been pasteurized do not differ in any significant way from untreated raw almonds, and therefore are still sold as “raw” under Food & Drug Administration (FDA) labeling regulations.
This plan, which is currently being implemented on a voluntary basis, becomes mandatory for the California almond industry in September, 2007. Once the mandatory rule comes into effect, all almonds commercially grown in California must be pasteurized before being sold to consumers in the US, Canada and Mexico.
Sincerely, The Almond Board of California
April 6th letter from the Almond Board
We appreciate your comments and suggestions about the pasteurization of raw almonds.
The almond industry strives to provide consumers with a product that they can enjoy, that is safe, and that can benefit health. With consumers’ health and safety as its number one priority, the Almond Board of California worked with the United States Department of Agriculture to institute the pasteurization program. The purpose of this program is to ensure consumers are provided with safe, wholesome food products free from potentially harmful levels of unsafe bacteria.
You can be assured that pasteurized almonds are as nutritious and delicious as unpasteurized almonds. The almond industry invested in independent nutritional lab analyses of pasteurized versus unpasteurized almonds. Those tests did not reveal any degradation of the taste, quality or nutritional value of treated almonds. Pasteurized almonds are still nutrient dense, a good source of protein and fiber, an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and still help maintain a healthy cholesterol level.
We understand there have been questions whether the industry pasteurization program has consumer labeling implications. These new industry regulations do not pertain to consumer labeling. Manufacturers and retailers will continue to determine how to label their products in line with FDA regulations.
We hope you will continue to enjoy almonds knowing that they are the same wholesome food that you have enjoyed for so long.
Sincerely, The Almond Board of California
Don't blame the nuts
It's a shame to see agriculture politics polluting the reputation of a really good nut. An almond from nature is a highly nutritious superfood. But if the Almond Board of California has its way, an almond from California will soon be a dead nut sold under false labeling.
Should these plans to pasteurize all California almonds actually go into effect, NaturalNews will announce a nationwide almond boycott and urge consumers to join the boycott. We already have relevant CounterThink cartoons on the way, and boycott web stickers are being planned for mass distribution. Please stay tuned to see whether the Almond Board of California will come to its senses and scrap its plans to kill its almonds.
It won't take long, by the way, before California's almond growers figure out that a boytcott is bad for business, and that turning over their live, healthy almonds to an organization that sterilizes them and reduces their value is a stupid way to conduct any business. Usually farmers want to find ways to add value to their products, but the Almond Board of California intends to actually reduce the value of all California almonds.
We support almond farmers, and we are huge proponents of raw, fresh almonds from nature. But we will not stand by and watch a misguided political organization kill this important food source.
Stay tuned to NaturalNews for updates, and prepare for a boycott announcement later this year.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.