USDA and Agribusiness Conspire To Mislead Consumers: 'Raw' Almonds Must Soon Be Steam-Heated or Treated With Toxic Chemical

06 Apr, 2007, 01:00 ET from The Cornucopia Institute

    CORNUCOPIA, Wis., April 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Small-scale
 farmers, retailers, and consumers are outraged over a new federal
 regulation that will require all almonds grown in California to be
 sterilized with various "pasteurization" techniques. The rule, which the
 USDA quietly developed in response to outbreaks of Salmonella in 2001 and
 2004, traced to raw almonds, mandates that all almonds undergo a
 sterilization process that includes chemical and/or high-temperature
 treatments.
     Although the final rule was just published in the Federal Register, The
 Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, is
 asking the USDA to reopen the proceeding for public comment. Only 18 public
 comments -- all from the almond industry -- were received on the proposal.
     "The new rule is unwarranted and could have many harmful impacts," said
 Mark Kastel, senior farm policy analyst at Cornucopia. "The costs of the
 chemical and heat treatments, in addition to the costs of transporting and
 recording the new procedures, will be especially onerous on small-scale and
 organic farmers, and could force many out of business."
     Glenn Anderson, a small-scale organic almond farmer in the central
 valley of California, worries that "this could be one more way for the big
 companies and the government to put us small farmers out of business." The
 equipment to sterilize almonds is very expensive. A propylene oxide chamber
 costs $500,000 to $1,250,000, and a roasting line can cost as much as
 $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.
     Consumers also worry about its impact on the quality and nutrition of
 pasteurized almonds, since the Almond Board of California (a marketing arm
 of the USDA) has conducted the only study on the practice. Their research
 concluded that "there was no significant degradation in the quality" of the
 almonds. "The validity of these findings is questionable given the vested
 interests of the research panel," Kastel stated.
     The most common method of sterilizing almonds is by propylene oxide
 fumigation. Propylene oxide is a genotoxic chemical and is listed as a
 possible carcinogen by the International Agency on Cancer Research and has
 been banned for treating food for human consumption in the European Union,
 Canada, Mexico, and most other countries.
     More details, a fact sheet, and a sample letter concerned consumers can
 send to the USDA and California Almond Board, can be found on the
 Cornucopia Institute Website: www.cornucopia.org.
 
 

SOURCE The Cornucopia Institute
    CORNUCOPIA, Wis., April 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Small-scale
 farmers, retailers, and consumers are outraged over a new federal
 regulation that will require all almonds grown in California to be
 sterilized with various "pasteurization" techniques. The rule, which the
 USDA quietly developed in response to outbreaks of Salmonella in 2001 and
 2004, traced to raw almonds, mandates that all almonds undergo a
 sterilization process that includes chemical and/or high-temperature
 treatments.
     Although the final rule was just published in the Federal Register, The
 Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, is
 asking the USDA to reopen the proceeding for public comment. Only 18 public
 comments -- all from the almond industry -- were received on the proposal.
     "The new rule is unwarranted and could have many harmful impacts," said
 Mark Kastel, senior farm policy analyst at Cornucopia. "The costs of the
 chemical and heat treatments, in addition to the costs of transporting and
 recording the new procedures, will be especially onerous on small-scale and
 organic farmers, and could force many out of business."
     Glenn Anderson, a small-scale organic almond farmer in the central
 valley of California, worries that "this could be one more way for the big
 companies and the government to put us small farmers out of business." The
 equipment to sterilize almonds is very expensive. A propylene oxide chamber
 costs $500,000 to $1,250,000, and a roasting line can cost as much as
 $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.
     Consumers also worry about its impact on the quality and nutrition of
 pasteurized almonds, since the Almond Board of California (a marketing arm
 of the USDA) has conducted the only study on the practice. Their research
 concluded that "there was no significant degradation in the quality" of the
 almonds. "The validity of these findings is questionable given the vested
 interests of the research panel," Kastel stated.
     The most common method of sterilizing almonds is by propylene oxide
 fumigation. Propylene oxide is a genotoxic chemical and is listed as a
 possible carcinogen by the International Agency on Cancer Research and has
 been banned for treating food for human consumption in the European Union,
 Canada, Mexico, and most other countries.
     More details, a fact sheet, and a sample letter concerned consumers can
 send to the USDA and California Almond Board, can be found on the
 Cornucopia Institute Website: www.cornucopia.org.
 
 SOURCE The Cornucopia Institute