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Raw almonds & mandatory pasteurization

A look at the Almond Board of California and their decision to require the pasteurization of almonds.

All Almonds from California, destined for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, will be Pasteurized starting in 2007.
As it stands now, there will be no label saying "pasteurized". The pasteurized raw almonds may still say "raw". This not only has implications for raw foodists (who may become ill injesting almonds, which are not truly raw), but also religious implications as some people honor ancient teachings that we should not cook our food. Taking away raw almonds takes away one's ability to honor those teachings.

Below are my correspondences regarding this issue, as well as contact information for those wishing to write their own letters. Consider cc'ing your own congresspersons, as well as your local health food and other stores where you purchase raw almonds.

 

The ruling that started this pasteurization conflict:

Almond Board of California almond pasteurization plan

Article:
Almonds must be pasteurized, say new USDA rules
By Lorraine Heller

 

[6/8/07 Note: After the below letter was written, it was realized that California is the ONLY state commercially producing almonds. This means that there will be NO raw almonds produced commercially from the United States.]


Here is my letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger regarding the California almond issue.
I cc'd a few people too. Hopefully it will help turn around the pasteurization decision.

 

April 18, 2007
 
Jeff Rogers
PO Box 31362
Seattle, WA 98103-1362
 
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
 
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
 
I am writing to you regarding the extremely unfair decision made by the Almond Board of California requiring that all almonds produced in the state of California, for consumption in North America, be pasteurized. This treads, not only on individuals right to make food choices, but also on their right to religious freedom.
 
The Board’s decision apparently stems from two incidents of the “presence of salmonella” in conventional almonds. There was no mention of such incidents in organically produced almonds, yet they have been included in this mandatory pasteurization order.
 
A growing number of Californian and American citizens are opting for entirely raw plant-based diets for greatly improved health, as well as for religious reasons. One of the staples of most raw foodists is raw almonds (especially organic.) Individuals following a strict raw diet may experience adverse reactions to cooked foods. Pasteurization is a form of cooking, which alters the almond. As a result, raw foodists may experience adverse reactions after eating them. In light of this, all pasteurized almonds should be labeled as such.
 
According to the Almond Board: “the regulation does not require treated containers of almonds to be labeled“.
 
To not disclose the pasteurization process on shipments of almonds would be deceiving to consumers. If almonds are intentionally labeled “raw” and have been pasteurized, then that, to me, constitutes fraud and has the potential to make people ill. Consumers deserve disclosure of all processes that their foods have been put through, so they can make informed decisions about the foods they put into their bodies.
 
Some raw foodists are followers of the Essene teachings. These are teachings from an ancient strict sect of Judaism from the time of Yashua (Jesus). In the translations, Yashua reminds us that we should not cook our food. To honor His teachings, many of His followers consume raw foods (not pasteurized). To require the pasteurization of all California almonds and not allow us an option for purchasing raw almonds restricts our freedom to honor and practice our religion.
 
From the Essene Gospel of Peace: “…prepare not your foods with the fire of death, which kills your foods, your bodies and your souls also.” – Yashua (Jesus of Nasereth)
 
The Almond Board’s decision will cause distrust for the California almond industry. It will also cause many consumers to purchase almonds from other states; states which honor our right to purchase raw almonds.
 
I strongly encourage and respectfully request you to encourage the Almond Board to reconsider their decision and allow some almonds (especially organic) to be sold in their raw, un-pasteurized, state and to require those that are not to be clearly marked as such. This allows the consumer to make an informed decision. The requirement to pasteurize almonds and hide this fact from the public prevents consumers from making informed decisions.
 
According to the Almond Board of California: “This action will help ensure that quality almonds are available for human consumption.”
 
Many of us who consume only raw foods recognize that this “action” will ensure a lack of quality almonds available for us (i.e.: not fit for our consumption), at least from the state of California. Please help ensure that we are able to continue enjoying truly raw almonds from California.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Jeff Rogers
 
 
Cc:    The Almond Board of California
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Sen. Maria Cantwell
Sen. Patty Murray
Cong. Jim McDermott
Sen. Barbara Boxer
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Cong. Dennis Kucinich
John Mackey, Whole Foods Market, Inc.
The Raw Network of Washington

 

An earlier correspondence to the North California Whole Foods bulk purchaser and his reply:

From: Jeff Rogers
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 2:01 PM
To: Brad Hirsch (NC NCC)
Subject: mandatory almond pasteurization
 
Brad,
 
I hope this email will help head off a customer  relation nightmare. It, apparently, has already been decided that most ALL almonds produced in the state of California are to be pasteurized. This is mandatory. The only exceptions are those almonds being shipped to countries outside North America and those almonds being shipped to facilities, which will be doing their own processing (including pasteurization.) Those almonds that are "raw" and are pasteurized will still be labeled as "raw". This, to me, is a form of fraud. Pasteurization is a form of cooking and will certainly alter the almond. Such almonds will no longer be raw and should never be labeled as such. The cause for alarm was two cases of salmonella many years ago from conventional farms (not from organic farms). Many of us (your customers) focus on raw organic plant-based foods, as we have found dramatic benefits in our health from this form of diet. One of our staples is raw almonds. Consuming pasteurized almonds has the potential of making raw foodists ill. As many raw foodists also culture some foods, including almonds, the alteration of almonds through pasteurization may render them useless in the natural culturing process. There are also many individuals who follow the raw food diet due to religious beliefs. The Essene scriptures quote Yashua (Jesus) as saying we should not cook our food! To take away our ability to find raw foods interferes with our right to freedom of religion.
 
I understand your CEO, John Mackey, is a vegetarian and would likely wish to support us in this cause.
Please help us! You can do this in two ways:

• Make sure that we have a continued supply of raw organic almonds. Warning labels may be added to "unpasteurized" almonds. We can then make our own informed decision. There should not be a mandatory pasteurization of almonds (especially organic).
• Make sure any almonds sold through Whole Foods which are pasteurized are labeled as such and are not labeled as "raw".

Thank you,

Jeff Rogers
Seattle, WA
Author, Vice Cream
President, SoyStache.com
 
Cc: Monika Kinsman, Director, Raw Network of Washington

Reply:

From: "Brad Hirsch \(NC NCC\)" <@wholefoods.com>
Date: April 17, 2007 7:05:15 AM PDT
To: "Jeff Rogers" <@soystache.com>
Subject: RE: mandatory almond pasteurization
Jeff-
I apologize for the delinquent response but I have been out of the office for the past 11 days.  We have taken this situation very seriously and are awaiting a response from our national office.  We are definitely opposed to mandatory pasteurization yet since this appears to have legal ramifications we must wait for some national direction.  I will pursue this once again today and see where we stand and I will return with what I’ve found out.
brad
 

Reply from the Chairman of the California Almond Board to my letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger:

4/23/07

Dear Jeff:

Your information is correct. The almonds involved in the two food safety occurences were not organic. The fact remains it could occur in organic almonds as well. The Calif. growers cannot take a chance. If either almonds cause another food safety event, the press would not distinguish which almonds caused the problem. Instead all almonds would get the bad press. That is why we decided to treat all almonds with a 4-log kill. It is my thought that a 4-log kill will not cook or cause the almonds to be different than raw almonds. We are testing the almonds now and should have some facts for your group soon. In the mean time I recommend you buy almonds now and until Sept. They will be unprocessed and you will be getting what you like.

Regarding your concern that we not process and label as raw, I do not think any growers or processors intend to do that. Your concern in this subject is with re-baggers who label the final product you buy from. We do not control how they label their product.

Hope this makes you more informed with the proposed rule for the 4-log kill step. Try to keep an open mind until we have time to provide you with more answers regarding the slight and quick heat process.

Dave Phippen
Almond Grower

Contact Information:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633
http://gov.ca.gov/
http://gov.ca.gov/site/contact-governor
http://www.govmail.ca.gov/

(Washington Senators)

Sen. Maria Cantwell
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3441
Web Form: cantwell.senate.gov/contact/index.html

Sen. Patty Murray
173 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2621
Web Form: murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm

(Washington Congressman)

Congressman Jim McDermott
Ph (202) 225-3106
Fx (202) 225-6197
http://www.house.gov/mcdermott/contact.shtml

(California Senators)

Sen. Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3553

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3841

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Nat'l
http://www.aclu.org/contact/general/index.html
Local (Washington)
https://www.aclu-wa.org/aboutus/contact.cfm

Congressman Dennis Kucinich
2445 Rayburn House Bldg
Washington, DC 20515

John Mackey, CEO
Whole Foods Market, Inc.
550 Bowie Street
Austin, TX 78703-4677

Whole Foods (Pacific NW Regional Office)
15 Lake Bellevue Drive
Suite 100
Bellevue, WA 98005
425.467.1001
425.467.1441 fax

 

The Almond Board of California
1150 Ninth Street, Suite 1500
Modesto, CA 95354
http://www.almondboard.com

Board of Directors of the California Almond Board

Chairman David Phippen
13909 Leroy Ave.
Ripon, CA 95366 (209) 599-6111 (209) 599-4008 fax

Vice Chair Doug Youngdahl
Blue Diamond Growers P.O. Box 1768
Sacramento, CA 95812 (916) 446-8595 (916) 329-3320 fax

Member Susan Brauner
Blue Diamond Growers P.O. Box 1768
Sacramento, CA 95812 (916) 446-8354 (916) 325-2880 fax

Member Wil Hunter
Hunter Farms 1621 N. Lincoln
Livingston, CA 95334 (209) 277-5840 (209) 394-8007 fax

Member Christine Long
Hilltop Ranch, Inc. 13890 Looney Rd.
Ballico, CA 95303 (209) 874-1875 (209) 874-1877 fax

Member Mike Mason
Panoche Creek Packing
15810 Arabella Ave.
Bakersfield, CA 93312 (661) 746-7877 (661) 746-7875 fax

Member Dean Nelson
Sierra Valley Almonds, LLC
12800 W. Shields Ave.
Kerman, CA 93630
(559) 280-2148 (559) 843-9010 fax

Member Dan Cummings
Cummings-Violich, Inc.
1750 Dayton Road
Chico, CA 95928 (530) 894-5494 (530) 891-4946 fax

Member Rick Kindle
Gold Hills Nut Co., Inc.
11805 Newport Rd.
Ballico, CA 95303 (209) 634-2022 (209) 634-0407 fax

Member Doug Wells
16508 W. River Rd.
Livingston, CA 95334 (209) 394-7246

 

 

Agricultural Marketing Service

http://www.ams.usda.gov/
http://www.ams.usda.gov/civilrights/

"As your Administrator, I am firmly committed to ensuring the
Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) compliance with civil rights"

Lloyd C. Day Administrator

For additional information, please call the AMS Civil Rights Program Office:
Toll Free: 1-888-454-7914 TDD: (202) 690-4168 Voice: (202) 720-0583
Fax: 202-690-0476

Civil Rights Program
Ruihong Guo
202/ 720-0583
ruihong.guo@usda.gov

Fruit and Vegetable Programs
Robert C. Keeney
202/ 720-4722
Robert.Keeney@usda.gov

Public Affairs Staff
Billy Cox
202/ 720-8998
Billy.Cox@usda.gov

Administrator
Lloyd C. Day
202/ 720-5115
lloyd.day@usda.gov

Associate Administrator
Kenneth C. Clayton
202/ 720-4276
Kenneth.Clayton@usda.gov

Compliance and Analysis Programs
Ellen King
202/ 720-6766
ellen.king@usda.gov


Related Site: What Would Jesus Pasteurize? Contains information on the religous and other issues regarding the almond pasteurization ruling. Also has other links.


Raw Food-Related
pages on this site:

Raw Food Articles
Raw Food Books
Raw Food Events
Raw Food Information
Raw Food Links
Raw Restaurants
Natural Weight Loss Diet
Jesus (Yashua) and Raw Foods

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