I had a really interesting conversation with Brooke Rewa, founder of Goodmylk, and she explained to me something that was shocking to me, and I’m surprised I hadn’t already known: Nearly all the almonds for sale in the US are pasteurized. Even the ones labeled “raw”. They are either cooked with heat, or sprayed with a toxic chemical called PPO (more on that later).
The Truth About “RAW” Almonds – They’re lying to you!
The Salmonella outbreaks of the early two-thousands.
There were two outbreaks of Salmonella that were traced back to California almonds. The first outbreak was a rather serious one in the year 2001 and affected mostly Canada with over 160 confirmed cases of Salmonella. From pubmed.gov:
One hundred sixty-eight laboratory-confirmed cases of SE PT30 infection (157 in Canada, 11 in the United States) were identified between October 2000 and July 2001. The case-control study identified raw whole almonds as the source of infection (odds ration, 21.1; 95% confidence interval, 3.6 to infinity). SE PT30 was detected in raw whole natural almonds collected from home, retail, distribution, and warehouse sources and from environmental swabs of processing equipment and associated farmers’ orchards.
The second outbreak happened in 2004 and affected mostly the Oregon region with 25 confirmed cases. From NY Times:
A Salmonella outbreak traced to one of the world’s largest almond producers has sickened about 25 people and prompted a nationwide recall of more than 13 million pounds of almonds.
The USDA Almond Rule
It was in 2007 that the USDA actually put the “Almond Rule” into effect and demanded that all California almonds must be pasteurized to achieve a 4-log reduction in microbial count before being sold commercially. This new regulation was campaigned for by the Almond Board of California (ABC). From foodnavigator.com:
According to the ABC, “the goal of the Action Plan is to provide assurance that all almonds reaching consumers have undergone a treatment to reduce the potential for pathogen contamination, without compromising the quality and flavor consumers expect”.
My first reaction was to think “OK, well if it’s only the almonds grown in California maybe it’s not that big of a deal”. However, it