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RE: [RawPortland] Almonds...

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  • Pamela Melcher
    THANK YOU SOOO MUCH, JEFF!!!! Many Blessings, Pamela Melcher ... http://www.naturalnewswire.com/2007/08/usda-plan-to-pa.html ...
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 8, 2007

      Many Blessings,
      Pamela Melcher

      --- Jeff Rogers <jeff@...> wrote:

      > For now, the almonds are safe. They will likely not
      > be pasteurized until
      > 2008. The below press release has more details. The
      > delay affords us
      > more time to petition the Almond Board and the USDA
      > to leave organic
      > almonds alone. For ideas of what you can do to help
      > (letter writing,
      > etc.) see http://saveouralmonds.com
      > Jeff
      > USDA Plan to "Pasteurize" Almonds Has Consumers
      > Going Nuts
      > Mandate Would Require Use of Chemical Fumigant or
      > Heat Treatment on
      > "Raw" Almonds
      > CORNUCOPIA, WI., August 6, 2007 /Natural Newswire/
      > -- Small-scale
      > farmers, retailers, and consumers are renewing their
      > call to the USDA to
      > reassess the plan to "pasteurize" all California
      > almonds with a toxic
      > fumigant or high-temperature sterilization process.
      > All domestic almonds
      > will be mandated to have the treatments by early
      > next year. The plan was
      > quietly developed by the USDA in response to
      > outbreaks of Salmonella in
      > 2001 and 2004 that were traced to raw almonds.
      > "The almond 'pasteurization' plan will have many
      > harmful impacts on
      > consumers and the agricultural community," said Will
      > Fantle, research
      > director for The Cornucopia Institute, a
      > Wisconsin-based farm policy
      > research group. "Only 18 public comments from the
      > entire U.S.-and all
      > from almond industry insiders-were received on the
      > proposal. The logic
      > behind both the necessity and safety of the
      > treatments processes has not
      > been fully or adequately analyzed-as well as the
      > economic costs to
      > small-scale growers and the loss of consumer
      > choices."
      > Last Wednesday, the California Almond Board suddenly
      > requested that USDA
      > delay the treatment mandate until March, 2008-it had
      > been scheduled to
      > take effect on September 1. "We support this request
      > for a delay," said
      > Fantle, "but a delay, due to the industry being
      > unprepared, isn't
      > enough. The USDA must also re-open the rule for
      > public review and
      > comment so that those who have been shut out of the
      > decision-making
      > process can have input into any almond treatment
      > plan."
      > Although foodborne illnesses have garnered headlines
      > in recent years,
      > including contamination of California-grown spinach
      > and lettuce, raw
      > produce and nuts are not inherently risky foods.
      > Contamination occurs
      > when livestock manure or other fecal matter is
      > inadvertently transferred
      > to food through contaminated water, soil, or
      > transportation and handling
      > equipment. Raw foods can also be infected by poor
      > employee hygiene and
      > sanitation practices either on the farm or in
      > processing facilities.
      > "All fresh foods carry some chance of risk," notes
      > Bruce Lampinen, a
      > scientist at University of California, Davis, who
      > studies almonds, "but
      > there is no more risk now than there was thirty
      > years ago."
      > And the fear in the farming community is that this
      > will competitively
      > injure smaller sustainable and organic growers.
      > "This will put American
      > farmers at a distinct disadvantage in the U.S. and
      > abroad," says organic
      > almond farmer Mark McAfee. Fumigated almonds are
      > banned in the EU and
      > many other countries. McAfee worries about the
      > impact of the rule on his
      > business. Seventy percent of California's crop is
      > exported.
      > Several domestic companies that use California
      > almonds are already
      > investigating foreign sources for their needs. After
      > buying almonds from
      > local producers for over 25 years, Living Tree
      > Community Foods, a
      > Berkeley, CA-based natural foods supplier, will soon
      > begin buying
      > almonds from Italy and Spain. Dr. Jesse Schwartz,
      > the president of the
      > specialty retailer, believes the rule, if
      > implemented, will be a
      > travesty for American agriculture. "California
      > almonds are the heritage
      > of the American people," he says, "they are superior
      > in every way."
      > Jason Mahon owns Premier Organics, a company that
      > produces raw almond
      > butter in Oakland, CA. Mahon is also looking to
      > foreign suppliers and
      > believes the rule is an unnecessary "fear-based
      > decision of the Almond
      > Board, that is clearly trying to protect itself from
      > bad press and
      > lawsuits."
      > The equipment to meet the new USDA mandate is very
      > expensive, ranging
      > from $500,000 to $2,500,000. Farms can outsource the
      > pasteurization
      > process, but Hendrik Feenstra, a small-scale
      > California handler of
      > organic almonds, believes that to do so will still
      > be prohibitively
      > expensive for modest-sized growers and handlers.
      > "Because pasteurization
      > companies often charge a flat rate no matter the
      > quantity of almonds, it
      > could be four or five times more expensive for
      > small-scale almond
      > producers to pasteurize almonds than it will be for
      > industrial-scale
      > producers," Feenstra says. And modest-size marketers
      > are concerned that
      > increased transportation costs will also add to
      > their burden
      > Organic farmers also question the science behind the
      > rule. They believe
      > that the sustainable farming methods they use, such
      > as mowing and
      > mulching, rather than controlling weeds by chemical
      > herbicide
      > applications, naturally prevent the spread of
      > harmful bacteria more
      > effectively than treatment after the fact. According
      > to almond grower
      > Glenn Anderson, "An organic farming system fosters
      > biodiversity and
      > creates an environment where Salmonella cannot
      > survive. This rule
      > ignores the root causes of food contamination-the
      > unnatural, dangerous,
      > and unsustainable farming practices on industrial
      > farms."
      > An important segment of the agricultural community
      > feels that requiring
      > small-scale and organic farms to comply with this
      > rule is unwarranted
      > and premature, as Salmonella outbreaks have only
      > been traced to a very
      > large industrial farm, and there is currently no
      > published research
      > pinpointing the causes of the harmful bacteria.
      > "With the costs
      > involved, and the implications on trade, they are
      > recklessly
      > experimenting with the livelihood of farmers,"
      > Fantle added.
      > Furthermore, there is a lack of evidence supporting
      > the use of the
      > chemical fumigant, propylene oxide (PPO), and steam
      > as the only
      > effective treatments to reduce risk of Salmonella.
      > The most common
      > method of sterilizing almonds is by PPO treatment, a
      > genotoxic chemical
      > recognized as a possible carcinogen that is banned
      > in the European
      > Union, Canada, Mexico, and most other countries.
      > Many chemical-free and
      > heat-free alternatives are being researched. "The
      > Almond Board has not
      > released any of the scientific research justifying
      > their treatment
      > choices," asserts Eli Penberthy, a policy analyst at
      > Cornucopia. "This
      > rule should not be implemented until alternative
      > technologies are
      > thoroughly explored."
      > The Cornucopia Institute also contends labeling
      > treated almonds as "raw"
      > is misleading and deceptive to consumers. "People
      > choose to buy raw
      > almonds for a variety of personal reasons, including
      > health, nutrition,
      > and even religious beliefs," Cornucopia's Fantle
      > said. "This rule denies
      > them the right to control their food choices by
      > making informed
      > decisions in the marketplace."
      > In fact, some strict vegetarians who consume only
      > raw foods rely on
      > almonds to provide as much as 30% of their caloric
      > intake, believing
      > that they are a nutritionally superior alternative
      > to meat in the diet.
      > "Raw almonds are increasingly popular for their
      > health benefits," said
      > Goldie Caughlan, the Nutrition Education Manager at
      > Puget Community
      > Cooperative in Seattle, who estimates that the co-op
      > sells 28,000 pounds
      > of raw almonds every year. She said customers are
      > already confused and
      > angered by the implications of the rule, and worries
      > how it will affect
      > sales.
      > Fantle charges that the rule could very well
      > establish a precedent for
      > more governmental control of fresh foods. Says
      > Fantle, "If almonds
      > require pasteurization, what foods will be next on
      > the list of mandatory
      > sterilization, heat treatment, and irradiation?
      > Truly raw, untreated
      > nuts, fruits, and vegetables might no longer be
      > legally available in the
      > marketplace."
      > Public concern about the almond treatment plan has
      > been growing. Over
      > 1,000 comments opposing almond pasteurization have
      > been submitted to the
      > USDA since the plan was approved on March 31, and an
      > online petition to
      > stop the implementation of the rule has garnered
      > over 15,000 signatures.
      > (To learn more about the issue, go to
      > www.cornucopia.org and click on
      > the almond navigation button.)
      > The only exemption to the almond treatment
      > regulations will be an
      > allowance for growers to sell truly raw almonds
      > directly to the public
      > from farmstead stands. Unfortunately, this will give
      > only a limited
      > number of consumers in specific areas of California,
      > the only state in
      > the nation that produces almonds, access to
      > untreated nuts.
      > Diets based on raw foods are integral to some
      > religious denominations,
      > such as Seventh-Day Adventism, so the rule poses a
      > threat not only to
      > consumer choice, but to religious freedom as well.
      > Contact: Will Fantle, 715-839-7731

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