Originally published September 19 2009
Pasteurized Mandate Hurts Domestic Almond Growing Business
by Ethan Huff
(NaturalNews) On September 1, 2007, the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) in conjunction with the Almond Board of California (ABC) mandated that all California almonds, even those labeled and sold as raw on store shelves, must be pasteurized prior to being sold to consumers in North America. Following this mandate, a groundswell of opposition has ensued from concerned citizens over the elimination of truly raw almonds from the marketplace. This includes an outcry from besieged domestic almond growers who have witnessed the rapid disintegration of their raw almond markets in favor of untreated, unpasteurized imports.
In response to two alleged almond salmonella outbreaks in 2001 and 2004, ABC pushed to mandate fumigation or high-heat steam treatment for all almonds, including those that would be sold as raw, despite an absolute abyss of scientific justification and rational investigation into the cause of the outbreaks. Almond growers, particularly organic ones, have experienced tremendous financial burdens both in meeting requirements and in coping with a dwindling market for their forcefully mislabeled product which has caused most people seeking raw almonds to purchase from international growers whose products are truly raw and can legally be sold that way in stores.
Besides the fact that USDA and ABC have legislated the untruthful labeling of pasteurized almonds as raw, their approved methods of pasteurization complicate matters even further. Among steam processing, roasting, and blanching there is fumigation treatment with toxic propylene oxide (PPO), a known carcinogen that is highly flammable and hazardous to health. In fact, propylene oxide food treatment is banned in many countries including Canada, Mexico, and the entire European Union because it is recognized internationally as carcinogenic to humans. Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified propylene oxide as a carcinogen responsible for neurological, gastrointestinal, immune system, respiratory, and liver disease, to name just a few.
While failing to investigate and address the root causes of food contamination, the regulatory bureaucracies have once again attacked the food rather than the food contaminator and, in this case, are recommending a treatment option that actually poisons food in the name of making it safer.
The Cornucopia Institute (CI), an advocate of sustainable and organic agriculture, has been leading the fight in repealing the nonsense almond pasteurization mandate. On September 9, 2008, 18 almond growers filed a federal lawsuit contesting the USDA final rule concerning almonds. Though the suit was dismissed in May of 2009 on technical grounds, new motions have been filed requesting a reconsideration by the judge due to technical errors on her part in assessing the case.
Though the judge had initially dismissed the case claiming that almond farmers have "no right" to have their substantive concerns heard in court, John Vetne, the attorney working on the almond appeal, successfully secured a ruling on a similar case in July that farmers indeed do have the right to contest market order regulations in federal court. In other words, based on precedent the almond growers' lawsuit is valid and there is a good possibility that the ruling can eventually be overturned.
Those concerned about protecting raw food from mandatory pasteurization, irradiation, or any other sort of manipulation should be very concerned with supporting organizations like the Cornucopia Institute that work to defend the free trade of unadulterated, natural, and organic food. Domestic almond growers continue to suffer a great loss due to unsubstantiated mandates on their products that are quelling both business and livelihood.
Wholesome, raw food is a valuable commodity that should not be taken for granted. The farmers and growers that provide us with it are in grave danger of going under due to excessive burdens, regulations, and mandates that punish them rather than the true culprits of food contamination. Like almonds, many other goods are threatened with extinction in their natural, unadulterated forms. Please consider supporting the advocacy groups that work to protect the free trade of clean, raw food.
Almond Fact Sheet - Mandatory Sterilization of Raw Almonds
The Authentic Almond Project - Cornucopia Institute
Almond Pasteurization - Almond Board of California
Almond Pasteurization Lawsuit - Cornucopia Institute
About the authorEthan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.
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