Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Organic Almonds Must Be Treated: Judge Rules

In a growing debate over the safety concerns of raw, unprocessed nuts, a US federal judge has ruled that organic almonds must in fact be processed before they can be sold. California organic almond growers are outraged by this fact, seeing that their products are supposed to be natural, untreated and unprocessed!

According to US safety regulations, almonds need to be pasteurized in order to protect consumers from food-borne illnesses caused by salmonella and other pathogens. The fact that the almonds have to be processed not only goes against what organic farmers stand for, but it could impact their ability to market the nuts to the niche organic market. This, in turn, could damage their reputation and lower their profit. Possible pasteurization methods include blanching, steam treatments or the use of chemicals.

It seems it's getting more and more difficult to find foods in their natural state these days, but given that foods are mass produced on such a large scale, safety does become a concern. I guess in the end it's a cost-benefit trade-off between processing and food poisoning. Get sick now or (potentially) get sick later? All I know is I'd rather not get sick at all - how about you?