How can pasteurized almonds be raw?

They can’t. But evidently the USDA thinks they can be. Almonds must now be pasteurized, yet they can be sold labeled as “raw.”

This seems to be yet another case of government double-speak, which though cloaked in the guise of “protecting consumers,” really just deludes consumers with false advertising.

Sure, we all want our food to be safe, yummy, and healthy. Many people choose raw foods for those reasons, and accept any perceived inherent risks in doing so.

But in this case, the two salmonella “outbreaks,” in 2001 and 2004, sickened a few dozen people. Let’s put that into perspective: according to the article, the US produces 1.3 billion pounds of almonds every year.

So to counteract an extremely rare occurrence of food contamination (one that could be prevented through better-enforced or enhanced cleanliness measures in processing plants), all almonds must be sterilized? With a chemical so carcinogenic it was banned as racing fuel?

And here’s the real kicker: according to the article, less than 10% of almonds consumed are raw anyway.

So the USDA is going to take away the option for an informed consumer to obtain raw domestic almonds (unless you are lucky enough to live in California’s Central Valley, where all US almond are grown, and can find them in a farmer’s market or farm stand where selling raw almonds will still be legal), and will yet again drive small farmers out of the business because of onerous and expensive processing requirements.

Makes me want to vote Libertarian, I tell you.



Filed under Food

7 responses to “How can pasteurized almonds be raw?

  1. L.A. Daddy

    Yeah, all the big “government conspiracies” always crack me up. There’s no way the government is smart enough to ever hide anything.

  2. Helen

    I’ve noticed recently how obsessed society has become with “risk” and avoiding all potential dangers. The pasteurised almonds thing is yet another example. It’s sensible to avoid real risky activities, but sometimes I feel as if the world has become safety-obsessed to the point of going crazy. Maybe it’s the desire to have complete control over everything and to easily cast the blame when something goes wrong? I wonder what affect this sort of climate is having on kids. Are they going to grow up afraid to do anything? I remember when I was a kid, going out and picking blackberries from bushes and eating them, and not even on a farm, they were growing by the side of the path. By rights I should have succumbed to the lurgy by now. We also used to roam off on our own all day, over the hills and to all sorts of “dangerous” places without an adult in sight. I was doing that from age seven. I would never let Kiko do that but sometimes I feel so sad that he won’t have that freedom. (And I’m too scared to give him almonds at all for fear of triggering a nut allergy!)

  3. Helen

    PS I’m so glad Blogger is letting me make comments again! My last few vanished into the ether (although probably my fault, I think I pressed the wrong key).

  4. Papa Bradstein

    I don’t think that the Libertines would help you here. One of the major reasons for excessive legislation like this is excessive litigation, which is primarily driven by greed and a lottery mentality. Hey, if you can get $25 million, why not? I don’t think another political party will help overcome this social movement into the courtroom. Although, I suppose that they could try to solve it through legislation. Ha.

  5. Henitsirk

    LA daddy: that’s why I love the Organic Consumers’ Association…they never let anything slide by.

    Helen: Fear is pretty much the root of it, and it definitely affects kids. I’m just now working on allowing the kids to play outside while I’m puttering in the basement, i.e. where I can’t actually see them. It’s nerve wracking…how silly is that?

    Papa B: It’s definiely a social movement, and government seems to just tag along. So I’m sure you’re right, social changes have to come first. (I sometimes think that our country is like a little kid, needing their parent (government) to give them boundaries (legislation). Hopefully we’ll grow up soon.

  6. (un)relaxeddad

    Pasteurised almonds? Seriously? I’ve never heard of such a thing! I do agree with Helen’s comments about risk, though. I remember my mother’s (who lives in Florida) shock at seeing climbing frames for children with no nets and soft cushions. Litigation, I suppose. But I do think we’re much more risk averse in general – as though we have some sort of weird natural right for nothing to ever hurt us…

  7. Henitsirk

    URD: You bring up a good point: “as though we have some sort of weird natural right for nothing to ever hurt us.” On the contrary, I believe that being hurt is a learning experience! How can children truly learn about being safe and careful (when necessary) unless they sometimes fall down?

    That said, my stomach turns over at the thought of the slightest injury to my own kids….though in the moment I am very cool, collected, and comforting. Easier to talk about these things in the abstract.

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