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Originally published April 5 2007

Food Scam: Almond Board of California to falsely label pasteurized almonds as "raw"

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

The Almond Board of California, which oversees virtually 100 percent of the almonds grown and consumed in the United States and Canada, is now implementing plans to pasteurize all almonds at temperatures up to 158 degrees (F) and yet have them intentionally and falsely labeled as "raw." The decision was made following the 2001 and 2004 outbreaks of salmonella in almonds, and is based on the intention of the Almond Board of California to provide a "safe, nutritious product to consumers" but not, it seems, an accurately labeled food product to consumers.

Although it seems unthinkable to anyone familiar with the fundamentals of nutrition, the Almond Board fails to recognize any distinction between raw almonds and cooked almonds. In statements received by NaturalNews, the Almond Board explained that, "raw almonds that have been pasteurized do not differ in any significant way from untreated raw almonds."

Except, of course, for the fact that they are dead. Stating that live, raw almonds are the same as dead, cooked almonds is equivalent to stating that a living human being is the same as a corpse.

Raw foods are widely understood by virtually the entire food community to mean food items kept below 108 degrees (F), beyond which the living enzymes in foods are destroyed. Pasteurization, in contrast, exposes foods to temperatures of up to 158 degrees for durations up to 30 minutes. (Faster "flash" pasteurization can involve much higher temperatures for shorter durations: 280 degrees (F) for two seconds, for example.) NaturalNews does not know the precise temperature that will be used for pasteurizing almonds, but it will without question be a temperature higher than 108 degrees (F), which means the almonds can no longer be considered raw by any reasonable person familiar with the definition of raw.

Outcry from the raw foods community

The raw foods community, not surprisingly, is alarmed at the new rules, which openly condone the false labeling of a food product. Dr. Gabriel Cousens, author of several top-selling books on raw foods and founder of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona (, told NaturalNews, "This mandatory almond pasteurization is an effort by the powers that be to limit access to healthy food. It is a serious attack on people's ability to eat what they want and support their health. In this important way, it deprives us of our basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a serious incursion of rights for a trivial and preventable reason, this being that the [past] contamination of the almonds was from a single source."

The issue at hand here is not merely that all California almonds will now be sterilized, but that cooked almonds will be deliberately and falsely labeled as raw. It's like opening a carton of fresh eggs and finding out they've already been hard-boiled. This is a clear case of deceptive labeling that should, by any common sense definition, be illegal. Yet the FDA seems perfectly happy with this deception and will apparently allow consumers to be blatantly misled about the food products they are purchasing.

Raw doesn't mean raw

The Almond Board of California (ABC) is aware of the outcry concerning the new pasteurization rule, but believes that the outcry is without merit. "The almond board understands there is an outcry, but we maintain that the quality of the almond is substantially the same as it is raw," said Marcha Venable of the ABC.

With this decision, the Almond Board of California seems surprisingly out of touch with the California lifestyle, which is significantly based on fresh, raw food products like limes, avocados and almonds. The living foods / raw foods movement in the United States is largely a product of the natural California lifestyle, and yet the Almond Board seems to have no hesitation in intentionally mislabeling its cooked almond products as raw, misleading consumers into thinking they're buying live almonds when they aren't.

This isn't something that's being covertly pursued, either. The Almond Board is blatantly and openly stating that cooked almonds will be labeled as "raw." If all these almond deceptions seem a bit hard to swallow, check the definition of "raw" in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, which states that "raw" means:

1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.

2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture: raw cotton.

In direct contradiction to this clear definition, the Almond Board of California is now insisting that cooked = raw.

Think about that for a minute. Cooked is raw.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is power. (1984 by George Orwell)

And now, in the California almond industry, cooked is raw.

Apparently, the perception of what's in the bag is far more important than what's really in the bag. Ignorance is power, after all.

How the almonds will be cooked

Pasteurization is a heat process that kills microorganisms by exposing them to high temperatures. Unfortunately, the process also kills the enzymes and living qualities of the food in question. Raw nuts and seeds can be planted and will actually sprout, indicating they are alive and vibrant, but cooked nuts and seeds will not sprout, indicating they are dead and have no remaining life force.

Pasteurization is effective at eliminating microorganisms precisely because it kills things. But heat is not a selective killer. It kills the almond just as easily as it kills the microorganisms. Thus, any sterilized almond package will contain dead almonds.

There are other technologies that can kill microorganisms without requiring pasteurization. Ozone treatment, for example, is extremely effective at reducing microorganisms and yet requires no high temperatures. Ozone-treated almonds could still be truly raw, but the Almond Board is not actively pursuing large-scale ozone treatments, perhaps due to the cost (pasteurization is cheap and easy, where ozone treatments require investments in expensive equipment).

It's not just the almonds that are going to be cooked under the new plans, however. The reputation of the Almond Board of California is also being sterilized. Who can trust an organization that openly and blatantly announces its intention to mislabel cooked almonds as raw almonds? If the almonds were honestly labeled as "pasteurized" or "sterilized," then that would be at least be a defensible position. But to intentionally and deliberately propose that a food product be deceptively labeled is inexcusable in any industry, including the almond industry.

Not enough public comments

The Almond Board of California says the new pasteurization rule is no secret, and it was published in a federal registry that welcomed comments from the public. The commentary period ended in January. "They did not receive enough comments to warrant a review," Marcha Venable told NaturalNews, "So it's really the overwhelming cry of consumers across the nation for healthy food products."

NaturalNews finds that quote perplexing. A lack of response is not equivalent to, "an overwhelming cry." Silence is not a mandate. Perhaps the people were simply too astonished to speak.

With this new false labeling rule, the almond industry joins the dairy industry in the "kill your food" philosophical camp. Dairy products are pasteurized for the same reason (to kill microorganisms and extend shelf life), yet raw dairy products have been found to exhibit tremendous health and nutritional advantages over cooked, processed dairy products.

By cooking its almonds, the Almond Board of California will be unwittingly killing its product and delivering an inferior almond to consumers. Raw foods enthusiasts wishing to make their own raw almond milk will now be without easy options. Ultimately, it seems that the Almond Board of California is not merely killing the almonds; it's also killing its reputation. The harm to the almond industry from increasing awareness about the false labeling could reach into the tens of millions of dollars in a single year.

No exceptions

Contrary to popular belief, there are no practical exceptions to the pasteurization rule, at least not for consumers. Certain organizations can be granted "Direct Verifiable" exceptions (DV), but only if they later pasteurize the almonds as part of a manufactured food product such as a granola bar. Thus, all almonds grown in California will, by law, have to be killed.

NaturalNews is currently attempting to find a source of truly raw almonds that we can recommend to consumers. Any organic almond growers who wish to be part of our recommended list of honest, raw almond sources are free to contact us through our feedback page. Once we are able to locate reputable sources of raw almonds, we will make that list available to NaturalNews readers.

The double standard

Interestingly, meat products are not required to be cooked before being sold, despite the numerous outbreaks of e.coli in meat that are announced each year. Why aren't hamburgers outlawed or raw meat products banned?

It is also interesting that there is absolutely no effort by state or federal regulators to remove the additives and ingredients in foods that kill consumers through cancer, heart disease, diabetes and liver disorders. Sodium nitrite, for example, remains perfectly legal to add to processed meat products, even though it substantially increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, colon cancer and even breast cancer. Hydrogenated oils, aspartame, petroleum-derived food coloring chemicals and cancer-causing preservative chemicals all remain legal as well.

Clearly, the goal of so-called "food safety" initiatives have nothing to do with actually protecting consumers, but a whole lot to do with meeting the interests of agricultural companies and junk food manufacturers. The primary concern of food safety officials appears to be extending shelf life, not protecting consumer health, which is why most of the food safety rules in effect today -- and even new ones like this almond pasteurization rule -- primarily have the effect of extending food shelf life.

With this recent decision, the Almond Board of California has unwittingly joined the conglomeration of uncaring, ignorant agricultural corporate interests who have no real concern for consumers, although they disguise their actions as such. Before long, it seems, all the food sold in the United States will be genetically modified, irradiated, pasteurized, homogenized, hydrolyzed and packaged for a two-year shelf life. And it will all be labeled as "All natural!"

It's no wonder, then that the United States population demonstrates the lowest levels of mental and physical health of any advanced nation. We are the walking dead, largely because we eat predominantly dead foods.

Ignorance beyond belief

The Almond Board of California is now joining the "dead food society" and contributing to this problem, apparently out of astonishing ignorance of the difference between live foods vs. dead foods. Perhaps someone should explain to the almond board what seeds are, and demonstrate the planting of a seed and its miraculous creation of a young plant.

It seems beyond belief that the organization overseeing tens of millions of dollars in almond production each year would have no apparent familiarity with the living foods benefits of their own products. It would be like an airplane manufacturer having no familiarity with the physics of flight, or a search engine company that had no idea what the internet was. Perhaps the Almond Board members have pasteurized their own heads and now have no working brain matter remaining to put to a sensible use.

It almost seems silly to have to say this, but there is a difference between life and death. The character of an almond is no more defined by its material matter than the character of a person is defined by the mineral ash of their cremated body. What's contained in a raw nut, seed, root or plant goes beyond mere chemistry, beyond the minerals, vitamins, oils and fiber. A raw nut exhibits a living energy that is qualitatively unique and cannot be replaced by a dead nut. This is obvious to virtually everyone familiar with the fundamentals of nutrition, but it has apparently escaped the notice of the ABC, whose only business is almonds!

The new false labeling rule goes into effect in the Fall of 2007. Until then, enjoy your raw, healthy almonds, because unless you have your own almond tree, they may soon be a thing of the past.

Action item

If you're a consumer of almonds anywhere in North America, your supply of raw almonds is now at risk. Contact the Almond Board of California and let them know what you think:

Their phone number is (209) 549-8262

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