Pasteurized almonds labeled as raw


You are probably thinking, “there goes Vreni the food nazi off the deep end about something else …!” Yeah, well maybe. And certainly for us foodies that follow the shenanigans of the food industry, it is old news that the Almond Board of California, which supplies all the almonds to the US and Canada, will begin pasteurizing almonds in September. There are two issues here.

  1. Pasteurization not only kills the micro-organisms in the nut, but also the nut itself.  A nut is a seed, and if you plant it, it will grow – it has life-force.  Cooking the nut kills the life-force, so if you plant it it will not grow.  The enzymes that make the seed viable also help our bodies digest it.  Furthermore, heating the nut destroys those delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids in them, making them rancid, and therefore what was once a nutritious food now becomes at best questionable, at worst, harmful.
  2. The FDA will allow the Almond Board of California to label these cooked almonds as "raw", so as consumers, our choice is taken away from us.  The label will be completely wrong, with the goal of confusing the consumer, which in my mind is criminal.  All almonds in North America will be pasteurized according to this law, so when you go to any store in North America to buy raw almonds, you will not be getting the real thing.  So, plant an almond tree or order your almonds from a source that gets them from Europe (you can order real raw almonds here –

Hopefully if enough people fight this, we can convince the Almond Board and the USDA not to do this.  Please send a letter and protest! Sample letter

Why are they doing this?  In the name of food safety, they claim.  There were two cases of salmonella from almonds grown conventionally before 2004, and no cases ever from organic almond farms that I can find.  The biggest reason foods are pasteurized is to lengthen shelf life, which increases sales. The more "dead" the food is, the longer it will take to spoil, the more chance there is to sell it.  But sterilizing everything deprives our immune systems from being able to build up defenses to common pathogens, which results in us becoming more susceptible to illness. And there is no doubt that there is more sickness today than even twenty years ago. Many kids seem to get a cold once a month! The short-sighted view of good health is that the germ is dangerous, and therefore must be killed before it comes in contact with our bodies. The long-sighted view is that building health isn’t about the lack of exposure to the germ, but rather about the ability of the immune system of the host to be able to defend itself against the germ, which can only happen through some exposure. (This is, after all, how vaccines work!)

I also found out this week, much to my dismay, that pretty much all other nuts and seeds, with the exception of walnuts, are already heat processed and sold as raw.  Cashews are boiled for six hours, pistachios are heat treated to shell them, brasil nuts are heated, and there really is no such thing as a raw sesame seed … And all this time I’ve been buying them "raw", carefully soaking them to increase their digestibility, drying them at low temperatures to prevent any oxidation, and now I find out they have been dead all along!  I just don’t think it is fair that as consumers we are being purposefully deceived by the labels.  If the label says "raw" I expect it to be raw!  We already have to go way out of our way to seek out healthy food, and to be able to choose appropriately we must be able to rely on accurate labels. Slowly, bit by bit, our choice of healthy, viable food is diminishing, either through its governed absence (selling raw dairy in Canada is illegal), or by deceptive labeling as in this nut example.  The only consequence that is possible with forced poor-quality food, is poor health.

I cannot promise a tip next week – I’ll try, but I don’t see much time available for writing.  In fact June will be tough as I will also be out of town over two weekends on a course. By July things should settle back down to normal though.

Related Posts
Food – our raw material
The hygiene hypothesis
It’s not what you eat but what you digest that counts

Online at Almond Board of California
Online at Mandatory Almond Pasteurization Weston A. Price Foundation
Online at Food Scam: Almond Board of California to falsely label pasteurized almonds as "raw"
Online at the Cornicopia Institute Almond Fact Sheet
Koenig A. et al. Immunological factors in human milk: the effects of gestational age and pasteurization J. Hum Lact 2005 Nov. 21(4): 439-43
Gaya P. et al. Proteolysis during the ripening of Manchego cheese made from raw or pasteurized ewe's milk; seasonal variation J. Dairy Res. 2005 Aug. 72(3): 287-95
Silva FV, Gibbs P. Target selection in designing pasteurization processes for shelf-stable high-acid fruit products Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004:44(5): 353-60
Dos Anjos F. et al. Gamma-glutamytransferase as a marker for the pasteurization of raw milk J Food Prot 1998 Aug. 61(8): 1057-59.

Copyright 2007 Vreni Gurd


  1. Live. Love. Read.  Pasturized Almonds said,

    June 26, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

    […] Edited to add this blog post. Very good w. lots of links. And, info that many nuts are already processed. Nutrition Class […]

  2. Morgan Ollila said,

    August 27, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

    Very, very nice work! Thank you.

  3. Chloe Rockefeller said,

    August 28, 2007 @ 3:43 am

    Hehe! Good work!

  4. Lin Thomas said,

    May 19, 2009 @ 2:05 am

    I buy raw almonds so, they better be raw. I will be checking the label for certified raw……. signed, I am healthy and plan to stay that way. Thanks for all you do.

  5. Vreni said,

    May 19, 2009 @ 11:19 am

    Hi Lin,

    I hate to break it to you, but unless you are buying European almonds, they are NOT raw, even if they are so labelled. Very very sad. This is how we lose control over our food supply, and therefore our health.


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