On Friday, I blew the whistle on the FDA for allowing almond manufacturers to label pasteurized almonds as "raw." It's unethical and illegal -- and it's tragic that such a nutritious food would be nutritionally castrated by the powers-that-be, bt what I didn't tell you on Friday is that there are plenty of issues beyond the fact that almonds will no longer be a nutritional heavyweight -- like the fact that consuming them could now pose a threat to your health.
The pasteurization method the FDA is recommending requires the use of propylene oxide. Let me tell you a little something about the chemical that's supposed to make almonds safer for you to eat.
For starters, it's a recognized carcinogen. A pollution information site called Scorecard says that propylene oxide is in the top 10 percent of compounds that are hazardous to human health and to the ecosystem. In six out of twelve ranking systems, it's ranked as one of the most hazardous chemicals.
It's suspected of causing birth defects, of altering your immune system, and of adversely affecting your central nervous system, your reproductive system, your respiratory system, and your gastrointestinal tract, liver, and gallbladder.
And incidentally, propylene oxide has been banned in Canada, Mexico, and the European Union.
So why on earth would the Almond Board of California suggest that such a change be made in the first place? Simple: to save face. In the last five years, there have been two outbreaks in some of their biggest almond operations in California. That can't be too good for business. But this new gig they've got going on won't be good for business either.
Eighty percent of the almonds grown worldwide are grown in the States, which means that a good chunk of change comes from exportation. The problem: Pasteurized almonds are not permitted in many overseas countries. Domestic sales are bound to take a nosedive as well, as companies are now turning to overseas sources to get raw almonds that are REALLY raw.
But perhaps the biggest hit will be taken by the smaller almond operations. Truth be told, even though all of the problems originated with the biggest almond industries, this little piece of legislation could spell the end of the line for organic and small-time almond operations. The minimum cost of the pasteurization equipment is $500,000 -- a hefty price that not many smaller businesses can afford. Shipping the almonds off to be pasteurized has its own road bumps, not the least of which includes higher prices tied up in transportation costs.
This is an awful lot of fuss, especially considering the fact that nuts are not likely to pose a threat in and of themselves. It's when manure or other fecal matter gets transferred to the crops that contamination can occur. A better solution is one that would regulate the manmade carelessness that's the source of all these problem to begin with. But with today's Band-aid mentality, the likelihood of that happening is almost nil.
Nutty for the truth,
William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.
Thank you for contacting Ag Secretary Mike Johanns to reject his almond pasteurization proposal.
USDA Enforces Ban on True Raw Almonds Despite Producer & Consumer Backlash All Almonds Sold in Retail Stores Are Now Pasteurized
Despite a negative backlash from almond producers, retailers and consumers, the USDA has implemented its ruling to require that all raw almonds be pasteurized. The rule went into effect on September 1st, and since then, all retail outlets have been forced to remove true raw almonds from store shelves. Consumers will be misled by this action as there will still be almonds on store shelves labeled as "raw", but they will actually be pasteurized.
One of the FDA-recommended pasteurization methods requires the use of propylene oxide, which is classified as a "possible human carcinogen" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and is banned in Canada, Mexico, and the European Union.
--- Bring Back Raw Almonds: Take Action! ---
Since the decision about the rule was made, Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns, has stepped down. He is temporarily replaced by Chuck Conner. This may provide a new opportunity for reversal.
Please contact Conner today to ask that the rule be suspended for 6 months while the public comment period is re-opened.
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