USDA Rejects Almond Board’s Request for Delay of Controversial Treatment Plan

August 20th, 2007

The Cornucopia Institute has learned that the USDA has rejected the request by the Californian Almond Board for a 6-month delay in implementation of the controversial almond pasteurization plan. Sources at the Agency told Cornucopia that they had determined that sufficient capacity existed in California to handle the pasteurization of this year’s almond crop with propylene oxide (PPO), a toxic fumigant approved for use on raw almonds to kill Salmonella bacteria.

“USDA is again not hearing the legitimate concerns being raised by almond growers, retailers and consumers who want a full review of the pasteurization scheme,” said Will Fantle of The Cornucopia Institute. Click here to take action now.

“We cannot let this order stand and we will investigate all public, legal and Congressional paths to see that this flawed and rushed plan receives a comprehensive public reassessment,” Fantle said.

Only 18 people – all associated with the Almond industry – commented on the draft pasteurization rule earlier this year. The comments came almost entirely from a small subset of almond handlers who received individual letters from USDA notifying them of the plan.

“The public was almost completely shut out of this process,” noted Fantle. Since the USDA’s almond plan was publicly revealed by Cornucopia in April, the group has learned that the Agency has received more than 1200 public comments opposing it.

“There are a multiple concerns regarding the wisdom and science of using a suspected carcinogen for almond treatments, questions about processing capacity for approved alternative treatments such as high-temperature heat, and the loss of domestic markets for growers competing with foreign almonds that are not required to undergo the pasteurization process.”

A detailed fact sheet, other information and sample letters to decision makers can be found on the Authentic Almond Project link.

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