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Raw and Organic Almonds Lawsuit Scores Its First Major Victory

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?

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70 thoughts on “Raw and Organic Almonds Lawsuit Scores Its First Major Victory

  • Judy Gergen

    It looks like this is just another attempt for the Gov to make “organic” mean absolutely nothing. We have to all stick together and demand to know the real truth about our food, where it comes from, what has been added to it, what processes it has gone through. We should watch this Federal law suit very carefully.

  • h.l. lowes

    for the most part purchase ‘raw’ almonds, walnuts, special packs of mixed trek packs…etc…shop at Trader Joes in Roswell, Ga. (30075), they have a most excellent collection…also shop at Harry’s (as they have equipment that safely grinds fresh ‘raw’ selection of excellent ‘nuts’
    Harry’s is a(the Best) division of Whole Foods…the store i shop is also in Roswell /Alpharetta ga.
    do hope at some point there will be more foods, with less sodium…and other odds and ends…think both of these companies make an effort….and a few of the chains seem to be making a bit of an effort…

  • carol klima

    thanks so much for all you do. Yes, we do want healthy, raw almonds, the way nature gave
    them to the tree. It’s obviously impossible to pre-sprout nuts that have been “sterallized” and this is what makes them extremely beneficial.

  • Curtis Bostic

    people better start taking a stand for the benefit of their own health before its too late.The voice of the drug industry ( the FDA) will do anything their benefactor demands,keep people sick and on pharmaceuticals for life to keep that money flow coming,God forbid if people start eating healthy!!

  • Barbara Finlayson

    It is very important for me & other people to know the state of the nut they are buying, the quality of the nut changes when roasted & could have a adverse effect on the person eating it. We most keep our food as it was given to us – grown & produced without any alterations or chemicals. Stop all these alterations & watch people become healthier.
    Thank you for letting me be heard…I Am Important & I Do Make A Difference.
    Love & Light

  • tanya marquette

    halleluyah! a little glimmer of hope for life itself. so glad to know the farmers have gained a small foothold in the legal system on this issue.
    personally, i do not eat almonds anymore due to the processing. i trust none of the labels, even in the health food stores–which are businesses after all.

  • Heather Chang

    I hope I will soon be able to eat almonds again. I wish the FDA would do more to support heathy and natural foods and disallow the use of dangerous chemicals.

  • Susan Rautine

    When will they stop? It’s unbelievable that the public has to go through such loops to bring out the truth and keep their bodies healthy from those companies who claim to be protecting us.

  • Lucille Bloodsworth

    I’m so happy that they are fighting the treatment of almonds because they are good at preventing cancer if taken in very small quantities….no more than 3 a day. This was said by the well known psychic Edgar Cayce who said “take no more than three almonds a day and you will never get cancer – if you already have it, they will stop the growth of the cencer cells. I’ve taken almonds for many years (when I found out that they were going to treat them I loaded up) and have never had a problem with cancer. Hopefully the madness of the government agencies will be stopped so that we can have protection from this terriable disease.

  • Donald


  • M Silvestri

    I used to love raw almonds, especially soaked or slightly sprouted. They were my favorite nut which I consumed regularly, almost daily for many years. About 3 years ago I found myself suddenly not enjoying them any more, even feeling repulsed by their taste, and they also began to disturb my digestion, which I couldn’t understand. At first I chalked it up to a few old, bad or possibly rancid batches, but I tried buying different brands from different stores and none tasted right. So I wound up not buying almonds anymore. Then I discovered that all almonds were being pasteurized, irradiated or treated, even the more expensive organic nuts! Then it made perfect sense. When you alter foods like this it not only effects their natural flavor, it makes them harder to digest and destroys their nutritional benefits. I am just one customer who now refuses to buy almonds unless I can find truly raw, pure, organic, untreated or unpasteurized. I wish government agencies would please leave our natural foods alone and allow farmers to sell them as nature intended.

  • Rex Kittle

    I hope and pray that Congress will keep the FDA out of OUR food. Food is not a drug, food is what is grown to eat, drugs are man made and only should be taken if needed. Food is my life, drugs are not.


    I love your work, and would really like to work for you! I’m a clinical social worker who had cancer 20 years ago and by that got turned on to natural foods and health issues. Subsequently, I worked for the Clinton Health Care Task Force. I have continued to learn about health related issues, and look to natural solutions to health where possible. If you think you might have an opening (!), I would love to hear from you!

  • abraham nassi

    The FDA SHOULD be required to hire(on their staff) a team of people that represent the organic farmers association and also listen to the PUBLIS opinion on food, vitamins etc. and NOT be swayed by the funding and money of BIG BUSINESS CORPS who are ONLY interested in FILLING their COFFERS!!!!!

  • BimBam

    Have not bought any almonds till this “raw” issue is resolved. This is like GMO foods dilemma, they don’t have to be labeled and I don’t agree with that.

  • Eugene O'Sullivan

    It is way past time for thinking people here to realize that corporate lackeys, like some in the FDA,FCC and others are an intergal part of a movement by the government(corporations) to create an unhealthy and uninformed population, easily frightened and even more easily led. There is no winning for the people unless they can decimate the Police State and corral the few good judges left to
    pull the operating licenses of the corporate bandits,create Peace Officers and lay the foundation for a sustainable economy. The Church which should be leading this fight is, for the most part, snugly in the pockets of the corporate bandits. God help us.

  • Harriette Orelup

    Until now, I believed that I was getting truly raw almonds, pure and direct from the tree, when buying “raw.” Now I wonder if I’m better off getting roasted! Thank God for the fight in the almond farmers. One day, we will truly have healthy food.

    • Harriette Orelup

      I am sad to see that I have again been duped by the FDA, thinking I was getting healthy food when,inthe rare occurance I could find raw almonds. My prayers are with the almond farmers. In the meantime, I wonder if I’m better off with roasted almonds!

  • I am an American citizen interested in my own health (and a retired healthcare practitioner of 3 decades) and that of my family and friends. I don’t know why I HAVE to ask for the right of free speech in this country when it is endowed to me as citizen, but the FDA and USDA seem to think they have the right to force the withholding of information from me, such as the fact that foods can be selected to make us healthier but somehow, not that pseudofoods can and do make us sick. The FDA and USDA also do not wish to allow us – by whose right, I cannot imagine – access to healthy food, such as raw almonds and other nuts, raw walnuts, raw milk, uncontaminated fruits and vegetables and grains, non-GMO foods. The FDA and USDA obviously wouldn’t recognize healthy food with or without a label, possibly the reason they don’t want food correctly labeled so the rest of us can make our own health choices when we acquire food. Neither are they capable in food science, as we notice when they approve GMO-anything, non-organic anything, non-raw anything. If they choose for themselves these pseudofoods, I’ll be sorry for their illnesses, regret having to pay for their lack of intelligent choices leading to expensive end-of-life care, but I will not give up my right to be healthy by making choices that encourage my own health. And I will take the consequences of those choices if I am wrong. Since I did not work my healthcare profession by writing or allowing fraudulent research or supporting corporations that manufacture pseudofoods, I am laying bets that my chosen diet can be counted on to provide healthy results.
    I’d like to see the FDA and USDA doing the job for which my taxes pay: overseeing a SAFE food supply, not merely propping up their corporate buddies who are contaminating both the ground that grows our food but also the crops that arise poisonously from that ground. The FDA has shown that it’s number one goal is to keep the drug monopoly in business in the US, not to oversee our food supply so citizens have healthy choices of food. If I were king, they would have been sweeping gutters clean long ago, and the new people hired to carry out the FDA mission would be busy overseeing a clean and healthy food supply, completely and honestly labeled. There truly are people who know how to do this job honestly. I think history shows it’s not the ones collecting the paychecks.
    The FDA and USDA are tyrants, obviously not very intelligent ones, and as a citizen, I would like to see some legal action that WOULD get them off my back and those of fellow citizens. The FDA has lost 2 rounds in court where they were told to stop censoring information about foods, yet they continue as though the courts are of no concern in their lives. An individual acting that way would be imprisoned until they got the legal point. Why is it that there is no penalty for their ignoring the court? Or is it that their belief in their corporate sovereignty is the US legal code?

  • Thank you Thank you once again for sticking to the guns in battling rationality in our food supply. It takes one battle at a time…. one food source at a time… apparently. But our health is well worth it.
    When we can obtain then eat pure raw unadulterated foods, the likelihood of disease lessens greatly. Therein, lies the thickest of brick walls between what is good for us and how mega-food producers make profits.
    Keep up the fine work!
    Stephen M. Perkins

  • Charles K. Hof

    Re: HR 4913
    What is wrong with you people? Who do you really work for? It is not OK to suppress the truth, by way of censorship. If Almonds are raw, they are just that. Not adulterated with some form of “starilization”. The very idea that one of the processes for this process is in fact a carcinogen
    (PPO) boggles the mind. Again who do you work for?
    And to say that the walnut industry is dared to list some of the benifits of eating walnuts, and is now pushing it as a drug is wasting your time and hurting the industry. Go and find something really useful like setting up a clearance house on drugs that Doctors can send information on the effects that occure while taking a particular drug.
    Thank you,
    Charles K. Hof

  • Perhaps there is a need for those regulators to be farmers, and not clueless people in ivory towers. While it is true that no one wants contaminated foods galore, let us have come common sense behind the efforts to provide safe foods, be they for humans or animals.. Very frightening in your report is that people directly affected by the regulations are not allowed to voice their views, perspectives, and realities. Why hasn’t someone brought up first amendment rights? Are we living in a bureaucratic dictatorship?
    Dana Allison

  • Enrique & Laura Dovalo

    Now these days, we the people are loosing the freedom of speech. We pray that the farmers and the Cornucopia Institute win this battle. Enough is enough!!!

  • radha

    My parents and grandparents and great grandparents where in the armed forces and I thought they were fighting for freedom and yet we are denied the ability to choose the food we want to eat. Food is a basic right worth fighting for. Who is the real enemy?

  • Dr. Kay Heaston

    Leave the almond growers alone. It is always something. Is there any common sense left in the US. I say dissolve the FDA or at least keep them out of our food supply. If something is FDA approved it is off of my radar. I am 68 yrs old, take no drugs, eat clean, stay away from MD’s, pay no attention to the propoganda on TV, and I am happy healthy and well. Most people are over medicated, eat processed foods, are obese, and malnourished. It is a sad situation that the FDA can not correct.
    Support The Free Speech About Science Act (HR 4913) Stop censorship, bring us common sense.

  • Hildy Lyn Roy

    I am delighted with what I have just read about the almonds. It is totally ridiculous and obviously backed by guess who? Big Pharma for one and probably the AMA. I choose to buy and eat raw almonds, walnuts, cashews etc. I prefer organic but definitely raw and now I find out that the raw almonds I have been buying, with the idea that they are good for me, could have been adding to the already allergy responses in my body.
    I am so tired of all this petty, controlling, sick manipulating. Good Luck to those hard-working and caring farmers. thank you!!!! hildylyn

  • Marilynne Walsh

    Congratulations to the almond growers for their perseverance. As a consumer and interested in healthy eating and living I support them 100%. Almond growers, thank you for your endeavors!!

  • Zyxomma

    This may lead to a great victory. I have been seeking out organic, truly raw almonds and almond butter, and mostly have had to buy them from abroad. Fortunately, I’ve laid in quite a supply. This law should never have gone into effect, and I (and all health advocates, particularly those of us who know how important almonds are in the healing of diabetes and prediabetes) will not rest until we can all have access to unpasteurized, organic almonds.

  • Ange

    Eat the crap that they produce
    get sick
    then get “Healed” with pharm folks
    Eat healthy raw unadularated food
    That is not available or
    not labeled
    stay healthy stay healed!

  • Dawn McPherson

    We will be following this one closely. It has the potential to open the door for many other acts of injustice to the American Farmers. We grow and sell organic raw produce from our farm and trying to feed a hungry world with “Healthy”food instead of drugged, died and manipulated foods is becoming hard to do. Big Pharma is evil and has control over everything in this world. Fight back for the right to say food is healthy and, “NO! WE DO NOT WANT TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH DRUGS BECAUSE OF THAT!” This problems is really HUGE! and it will be an uphill battle.

  • Bill

    I was totally unaware of this. I eat almonds everyday and believe them to be RAW. I now wonder if I have a lawsuit? As a member of the ACLU I might explore this possibility.

  • Margaret

    The government and FDA hae entirely too much control and absolutely no concern for health. I never see meat of any source ban because of contamination, yet it is always the cause of contamination to our whole foods that come from nature. As consumers we have the right to healthy foods. Not all of us want to eat foods that are full of preservatives, chemicals, dyes, and ingredients unfit for human consumption. But the FDA is always going to pull off the shelf natural foods, making a HUGH deal of it, instead of finding the source that contaminated it in the first place and fine those who use unsafe and unhealthy practices. The government and FDA only regulate what they want. Dairy products are so full of puss and contamination. Processed foods have absolutely NO nutritional value. But they always target the whole and healthy foods.
    We live in a society full of GREED and no respect for natural foods that really do HEAL people. We are not meant to eat processed foods and foods with a shelf life of years.

  • Nancy Burrows

    There must be warning labels to indicate PPO’s or heating, or any other chemical or another treatment! Otherwise the public is deceived.

  • Sue Moxley

    How much proof do we need that the FDA has been bought and paid for by the drug companies? This particular ruling of the FDA is proof that the welfare of Amereica’s citizens is their least of their concerns.

    • Sue Moxley

      How much proof do we need that the FDA has been bought and paid for by the drug companies? This particular ruling of the FDA is proof that the welfare of Amereica’s citizens is their least of their concerns.

  • amarillostu

    Thank you so much for fighting the good fight against our anti-natural health govt, its a shame that these administrations are enemies of the people when we are the ones who pay their bills with taxes. Keep fighting for our god given mother nature, and her precious fruits, in this case nuts, to nurture its people. Thanx ANH for providing a way to unify the ppl to fight against the enemy of our food supply, and many other supplies for that matter. We are all one, truly. And a unified, awakened, and educated public is the key to change.

  • patrice

    2 questions:
    what caused salmonella infestation of almonds and shouldn’t that issue be addressed?
    are the “raw almonds” I buy at trader joe’s treated in the ways outlined int he article? Might they be
    keep up the good work.

  • David Moore

    Please pass a law that would prohit anyone applying for employment with the USDA if they have ever worked for a Pharmaceutrical company, and if hired, would go to jail for a felony if they ever later worked for a Pharmaceutical Co.

  • 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.

  • Juliette Hamed

    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.

  • Henry

    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.

  • Linda Geiger

    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.

  • Mary

    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?

  • Jennifer Taylor

    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.

  • 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.

  • Bettie

    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.

  • Jackie

    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.

  • EddieW

    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!!

  • 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

  • Justin J

    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!

  • Dave

    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.

  • Tony Costa

    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?

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