If you purchase raw almonds at any store in California, they are not raw and you have been cheated: from a whole, living food perspective, these products are mislabeled. Sadly the USDA and the California Almond Board has approved this false advertising and labeling.
Recent scientific studies show that heating almonds creates potentially harmful levels of acrylamide, a threatening byproduct of the amino acid asparagine that results from heating almonds.
Methods of Treating Almonds
There are four main methods of pasteurizing almonds:
- steam processing (pasteurization)
- high heat treatment (roasting)
- highly toxic fumigation treatment with propylene oxide (PPO). Two are the primary methods used, which are steam processing, and PPO fumigation.
After salmonella outbreaks linked to almonds back in 2003 and 2004 sickened 29 people, California’s Almond Board began requiring that almond producers pasteurize their almonds, heating them to 158F, to kill any potential pathogens on the nuts’ surfaces. This requirement began in 2007, and since then California almonds have not been truly raw, though they are still labeled as raw.
USDA recently developed a new method for treating almonds which involves hitting them with infrared heat and then hot air roasting them. While USDA is touting this new lower-energy method as more environmentally friendly, heating almonds to these high temperatures almost completely eliminates salmonella on almonds, but it also decreases the nuts’ vitamin and mineral content.
Propylene Oxide Fumigation(PPO).
- PPO is reserved for non-organic almonds.
- It is used as a fuel additive in racing cars.
- The US National Hot Rod Association has since banned it for safety reasons.
- It’s also used to make plastics and thermobaric weapons.
- PPO is a verified carcinogen that is highly flammable, with noxious fumes that are incredibly hazardous to a human being’s personal health.
- The EPA has declared PPO a carcinogenic chemical that is responsible for neurological, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and immune system dysfunctions, as well as liver disease.
- In addition to the American Motorcycle and National Hot Rod Associations banning PPO, countries such as Mexico, Canada and the entire European Union have banned it, due to its known carcinogenic risks to human beings.
Even if you are a person who doesn’t care whether your US grown almonds are pasteurized or not, DO NOT eat non-organic almonds grown on American soil, unless you also don’t mind subjecting yourself to a chemical so toxic, that its use was banned by National Motorcycle and Hot Rod Associations!
California produces all of the almonds sold in the U.S. and 80 percent of the almonds sold in the world. Such a costly pasteurization requirement like this seems like an overreaction to contamination that only affected 29 people, especially since it also takes away consumer choice by eliminating the option to buy raw almonds. It is argued that salmonella comes from factory farming and what we need is to look at our food system as a whole, not put a band-aid on one symptom.
Here’s a good source for unpasteurized, gas free, truly raw almonds from a small family farm. Prices are great and shipping is free. I purchased 5 pounds in January 2013 and was very satisfied. They are small but crunchy and sweet. They make a good quality almond milk that does not separate or curdle.
Source for truly raw almonds:
Update March 06, 2017:
Unfortunately, this farm has closed down and I have no local sources for chemical free almonds.