Raw and Organic Almonds Lawsuit Scores Its First Major Victory

August 10, 2010
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almonds-vitamin-e-lgA group of almond growers has been fighting for three years to keep their almonds from being adulterated against their will. Now their plea will finally be heard in federal court.

From 2001 to 2004, there was a string of salmonella outbreaks in California that were linked to almonds. In response, the Almond Board of California made a deal with the US Department of Agriculture.

Effective September 2007, the USDA ordered all almond growers to “sterilize” almonds in one of several ways: heat them using steam, irradiate them using a controversial ionization process, roast or blanch them, or treat them with propylene oxide (PPO).

PPO is a known carcinogen, and most countries, including the EU, have banned imported nuts treated with PPO. The chemical is so nasty that it’s even been banned by both the National Hot Rod and American Motorcycle Racing Associations, where it had been used as a fuel additive before it was deemed too dangerous.

The new rule created deceptive labeling. Almonds that have undergone chemical treatments or heating for pasteurization are still labeled “raw.” Consumers who purchase “raw” almonds may well think that those almonds are natural and unprocessed. Moreover, there will be no label requirement to specify what kind of pasteurization treatment was used among the many approved methods or combination of options.

In March of 2007, we instituted an Action Alert and joined with the Organic Consumers Association, the Cornucopia Institute, and other groups to seek changes to the regulations.

Before the regulations went into effect, an exemption was given for small-scale growers, who were allowed to sell truly raw almonds, but only direct to the public from farm stands. It was still illegal for them to say that theirs were untreated, thus denying them the right to tell the truth and also any competitive advantage from doing so.

Since the new requirement took effect, a group of raw and organic almond farmers continued the fight. Last Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that their challenge can proceed. “At long last the farmers who have been injured by this rule will have the opportunity to stand in court and state why this poorly thought out regulation should be thrown out,” said Will Fantle, research director at the Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based sustainable agriculture advocacy group coordinating the legal strategy for the farmers’ lawsuit.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, almond farmer Nick Koretoff, said, “I am very happy with this first step in overturning this destructive regulation….My consumers want raw, untreated, healthy almonds, and I have been denied the opportunity to sell them what they want.”

An attorney representing the farmers in the current lawsuit said, “We are pleased that the Appeals Court rejected USDA’s argument that courthouse doors are closed to farmers. We now intend to demonstrate to the federal district court that USDA acted outside of authority granted by Congress when it denied California almond growers a consumer market for raw almonds.”

This is not the first time ANH-USA has battled over nuts. In April we issued an Action Alert over FDA’s censorship of the scientific evidence supporting health claims for walnuts. The FDA had sent a Warning Letter to a nut processor and distributor because the company dared to list some of the health benefits of walnuts on its website. The FDA said that the walnuts were being “promoted [as] drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.” In other words, if you say that a food is healthy and may help protect against heart disease, or ease arthritis or inflammation, your words have magically changed that food into a drug, and that’s illegal!

The Free Speech About Science Act (HR 4913), which we strongly support to put a stop to FDA censorship ( and ultimately USDA censorship as well) is currently in committee.

Also Featured in the August 10, 2010 Newsletter:
Biased and One-Sided Consumer Reports Article Attacks Supplements
JAMA Reports that Vitamin B6 May Reduce Lung Cancer. Will the FDA Turn Natural B6 into a Drug?

70 Responses to “Raw and Organic Almonds Lawsuit Scores Its First Major Victory”

  1. Tony Costa says:

    I have spoken to testing Laboratories and i have asked the question that if a Salmonella and E-coli tests where to be preformed on batches, if a negative result was achieved, would the product be safe for human consumption.
    The testing lab indicated that from their position every step had been taken to ensure the product was safe.
    If a positive result was to be found, then a treatment would be needed for only the product that was to have shown a positive result.
    If 50 tons of product had a composite test and 2 tons where tested positive out off them, then they would need to be treated not the 48 tons that had passed.
    If the major players in the industry are saying that pasteurization is needed because of the outbreaks, could this be because they have an inefficient farm practice?
    Smaller operations generally take a more hands on approach to their farm operations.
    If the major players want to enforce all pasteurized products within the U.S only, is that then saying that as an industry that we don’t care if salmonella has tested in another country?
    Is that a bit hipper critical of them?
    If all product was pasteurized and product had been released into the market place, if an outbreak did occur would the industry and the FDA authorities, reimburse all loses incurred and possible law suits back to all players that have been made to pasteurize?
    Has anyone compiled research on pasteurized product that has or can still test positive for salmonella?


  2. Dave says:

    The outbreaks are not occurring due to poor hygienic practices they are happening because genetically modified foods are made to produce e coli and salmonella naturally for gene insertion. Look it up it is all over the web in every bio tech companies announcement about break throughs and advances in crop science.

    Genetically Modified E. Coli Produce Plant Product Used In Foods And Cosmetics, Science Study Says: Science Daily (June 30, 2003

    “We chose to start with E. coli because you can insert all the genes at once. Tomatoes will be more complicated,” explained senior author Bilal Camara from CNRS and Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France.

    They are playing with fire combining viruses with food products what more to you need to know? We are all going to die.


  3. Drew says:

    Any updates on this?


  4. Justin J says:

    We can beat this! My fear is once they start irradiating, it will only be a matter of time before everything is irradiated, we got to stop this madness!


  5. Karen Hammer says:

    I totally theres no question in my mind that we should be able to buy really raw almonds shelled but not pasturized or heated. We need to let them know. Thanks for the information


  6. EddieW says:

    It is a Natural Law that we can grow our own food in any way we wish…there is a bill before the Senate S510 I believe that would prevent you from growing your own food, trading it or selling it..doubt it will pass..a Monsanto agent wrote the bill…fill us with GMO foods, sabatoge our health, so we will buy more pharmeticuticals!!! It will be interest what will happen to the cows, horses and sheep that are forced to eat GMO alfalfa…most animals won’t eat GMO foods!!


  7. Jackie says:

    It is so distressing to realize money and corporate greed create the agenda for the FDA and USDA. Big pharma, the food corporations and the Federal agencies are more concerned with keeping the status quo, continuing to sell garbage for our bodies, and reap outrageous profits off over-prescribed drugs and keep raw, healthy organic food out of our reach both through costs and availability. Hopefully, our courts aren’t so corrupt that they can overrule and keep this injustice from happening.


  8. Bettie says:

    Thank you for updating us and for continuing this worthy battle! I too look forward to the day when truly raw, organic almonds will be available for consumption once again. The USDA ruling is oppressive and unjust.


  9. Raw food is vital for health for a number of reasons, primary among which is the presence of enzymes which aids the body’s metabolism of the food. Dr. Francis Pottenger’s cat studies have proven the damage of heat treatment of food to the health and very survival of mammals. Irradiation, like cooking, destroys food enzymes which renders them cooked from an enzyme perspective. Additionally there is the problem of radio-lytic bi-products which have unknown consequences upon human health. Lysine (deficiencies of which are reputed to facilitate cancer development), a heat sensitive amino acid, may also be easily destroyed by irradiation and so requires study.

    Three generational studies will show the folly of destroying food enzymes and any other adverse effects.. Three generational feeding experiments, in other mammalian species, must be performed in order to know know the effects before we permit such, likely to be damaging, technology to be released for human use.


  10. Jennifer Taylor says:

    Here is the bottom line: I would rather eat raw organic all day long as opposed to consuming toxic, carcinogins that WILL damage our bodies. The government wants to hold a thumb down on everything we have, we must fight as we have done for hundreds of years to keep our freedom and have rights to what we own and grow. Its sad and pathetic that this must be such an ongoing battle.


  11. Mary says:

    The FDA is not the people but for big corporation. Same goes for the USDA. Is there nothing left in this Country for the “little” people?


  12. Linda Geiger says:

    This law that the FDA and the obviously the pharmaceutical companies have about whether a substance is a drug or not is pure rubbish and they should be ashamed. The Amercian people should have a right to healthy food and not have it adulterated and a right to true information. The facts are the facts. Unforntunately they are switching the facts…saying that only drugs can cure or prevent disease…this is a lie! That statement is false and helps to promote sickness in our country. The fact is that foods created by God do cure and help prevent disease, whether they like it or approve of it or not. We all know the situation is the way it is…to help put more money in all of their pockets at the terrible expense of human lives…greed is ugly and they are ultimately killing people.


  13. Ken Putt says:

    The FDA( federal death administration ) is right in with the central bankers and the powers that be.


  14. mike l. says:

    the only way we the consumer can tell if we have raw nuts is to see if they sprout…


  15. Henry says:

    I have always been upset with the FDA’s decision on this almond situation. They continue to set rules which in my opinion are so unnecessary. While drugs kill thousands, one small outbreak with almonds and from then on, after the rule was enacted, I simply was unable to purchase unadulterated almonds anywhere.

    As most of you already know, the pasteurization process destroys the delicate enzymes which are necessary for our bodies to grow and heal.

    The FDA is controlled by the large pharma companies and they should be re organized to the point where they can be trusted.


  16. Juliette Hamed says:

    Please, stop them from doing that to our food. If they want, put PPO in their own food. Cancer is growing too fast among us because of all the chemicals in our food.


  17. [email protected] says:

    August 10, 2010; write down that date. Finally, we have a breakthrough. Sterilized food does not promote health. You’d think that was easy to figure out, but apparently the USDA doesn’t know, or doesn’t care. I am so glad this arbitrary regulation is being challenged in court. It’s about time.


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