I did a bit of searching around on this forum and didn't see much information concerning the safety of pasteurized almonds. Since almonds are regarded as an excellent source of monounsaturated fats and protein, many of us incorporate them into our diets. Thus, I thought I would write up a little blurb to help inform the almond-eaters out there about the truth behind pasteurized almonds.
You may be aware that as a the result of several salmonella outbreaks in 2001 and 2004 traced back to raw almonds, the USDA, FDA, and the Almond Board of California mandated that nearly all almonds would have to be pasteurized beginning September 1st, 2007. Since California provides all of the commercial almond supply to the US and Canada, this means that all of the brand name almonds that you purchase at your grocery store have been pasteurized (although they may be labelled as "raw"). The only methods of obtaining truly unpasteurized almonds are by either purchasing imported almonds (usually from Spain or Italy), or by purchasing straight from an almond farm. This means that unpasteurized almonds are difficult to obtain, and much more expensive in comparison. Also, there has been no significant evidence showing a difference in the nutritional benefits of a pasteurized vs. unpasteurized almond.
The problem with pasteurized almonds is the manner in which they undergo this process. Almonds are usually pasteurized in one of two ways: either through steam processing, or through PPO fumigation. What is PPO? PPO, short for Propylene Oxide, is an organic chemical compound commonly used in the creation of polyurethane plastics and as a fuel additive. The EPA has classified PPO as a probable carcinogen, and it is placed in the IARC Group B2 of possible carcinogens. Despite all of the health risks associated with this chemical, the FDA and Health Canada both allow a maximum residue limit of 300 ppm (parts per million) in almonds sold commercially.
How can you avoid consuming PPO-fumigated almonds? One option is to look for organic almonds, which are always steam treated. In addition, you can limit yourself to purchasing specific brands of almonds that do not pasteurize using PPO. Here’s a link that contains some research as to which brands undergo PPO fumigation: http://foodidentitytheft.com/trying-...-little-guide/
Here's a summary of the above link:
Brands and specific lines to avoid: (PPO-treated)
- Costco Kirkland Signature (chocolate covered + whole almonds)
- Diamond of California (all)
- Blue Diamond (whole natural almonds)
- Superior Nut Company (all non-organic)
Brands to look for: (steam-treated)
- Planters (all)
- Whole Foods store 365 brand (all)
- Back to Nature (all)
- Trader Joe's (all)
More information on PPO:
- Avoid almonds pasteurized with PPO, a carcinogen