California-grown raw almonds are no longer raw, following enactment of a federal rule in September 2007. The USDA has mandated that raw almonds are to be sanitized using treatment processes that the industry generously describes as “pasteurization.”
The rule requires treatment of raw almonds with a toxic fumigant or high-temperature heat. The scheme has imposed significant financial burdens on small-scale and organic growers, lacks scientific justification, has damaged domestic almond markets, and does not address the unsustainable methods used on the industrial-scale almond orchards where the only two documented Salmonella outbreaks have occurred. And the treated almonds can still be deceptively labeled as “raw!”
There is a legal challenge to the raw almond treatment mandate. A lawsuit seeking to overturn the almond pasteurization rule was filed on Sept. 9, 2008 in the Washington, D.C. federal court. Fifteen almond farmers and handlers are plaintiffs in the complaint (click here to view the news release announcing the lawsuit).
March 12, 2009 — Despite setback, raw almond fight continues. Click here for legal update.
May 29, 2009 — Raw almond fight twisting through courts. Click here to see.
August 3, 2010 – Almond Farmers Win Appeals Court Victory. Click here to see.
December, 2012 — Appeals court arguments challenging legality of almond treatment regulation underway.
We believe there are compelling legal arguments supporting the lawsuit. It is our opinion that the USDA exceeded its regulatory authority in imposing the raw almond treatment. Even if the agency has the authority, it has badly bungled its enactment. The farmers’ legal team is working hard to successfully make the case.
But to be successful, the legal effort will need help from all who want to preserve the right to truly raw, authentic almonds grown in the United States.
- Click here to donate to the raw almond legal defense fund. The new organization, Action for Almonds, is helping to fund the legal challenge being fought by California almond growers. They need your support.
- Click here to contact your elected federal officials about this bad food treatment rule. We have sample language for your representatives and their contact information.
- Contact your retailers and ask them to support the legal challenge preserving the right to truly raw, authentic almonds grown by American farmers. If they need more information, they can contact email@example.com.
- The Cornucopia Institute has prepared a comprehensive fact sheet detailing the broad range of problems and concerns associated with the USDA’s almond pasteurization plan. Click here to view Cornucopia’s Raw Almond Treatment Fact Sheet.
Organic producers have never been implicated in any of the past salmonella problems associated with almonds. Organic growers have their own set of mandatory protocols and best management practices that are employed in their orchards that substantially lower the salmonella contamination risk.
An exemption from the almond treatment mandate for organic growers would greatly diminish the harm that is being caused to these farmers who are losing tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales to imported raw almonds which are not required to invoke a pasteurization treatment.