Are Your Almonds Truly Raw?

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This may or may not come as a surprise, but if you’re buying raw almonds grown in the United States, they’re not actually raw.

almonds on a cutting board

Even if they’re labeled “raw.”

It has been brought to my attention that some people still aren’t aware of this fact, so I thought it might be a good idea to revisit the topic today.

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. [source]

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Had I not been a raw food enthusiast at the time, this news would have probably slid right under my radar. As I recall, there wasn’t much media coverage, and I only found out about it through a raw food forum, full of outraged consumers worried about the impending ban.

In a panic, I drove to the nearest Trader Joe’s and bought as many jars of truly raw almond butter as I could possibly store in my pantry.

I was stocked up for at least 6 months.

When my supply had finally run out, I was surprised to find that even after the ban had passed, raw almonds and raw almond butter were still plentifully available on store shelves.

jar of almond butter scooped into a measuring cup

Only, it didn’t taste the same as the raw almond butter I stocked up on before the ban was passed.

That’s when I learned that even pasteurized almonds could be labeled as “raw.” In fact, they can be steamed, irradiated, or treated with chemicals, and still be labeled as raw!

Luckily, there are still a couple loopholes for purchasing truly raw almonds:

1) You can buy directly from farmers–> either at farmer’s markets or online. My favorite online suppliers include:

  • Bremner Farms sells unpasteurized raw organic almonds directly from their farm, starting with 5 lb boxes going up to 30 lb boxes.
  • Blue Mountain Organics sells truly raw Italian almonds, starting with bags as small as 8 oz. and up to 25 lbs.

2) You can also buy almonds that were grown outside of the USA.

I’ve noticed that my local Whole Foods has started carrying truly raw Italian almonds near the bulk section. Check your local grocery store, or talk to the store manager to request that they start carrying them!

Note: If you do choose to buy raw almonds grown in the USA, I’d recommend sticking to organic varieties, to avoid the chemical pasteurization process. These pasteurized “raw” almonds tend to be cheaper than the truly raw varieties, and if you plan using them in grain-free baked goods, they don’t need to be raw anyway! However, avoiding chemicals is always a good thing, if you ask me. 

Reader Feedback: Were you aware of the raw almond pasteurization in the United States? If so, do you make an effort to buy truly raw almonds?

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Claire @ Live and Love to Eat

I don’t focus too much on choosing raw foods, but the labeling loophole is scary! Food companies get away with so much.

    Dixie Milk

    SO True!


I was aware of the US not having truly raw almonds anymore but am able to easily pick up almonds from other places here. Though to be fair, who’s to say what their laws are? I’ve never checked any others and like yourself only knew about the USA law due to also coming from a raw food background.


    Well, other countries do not have their political process controlled by big-ag corporations the way it is here. (Although Britain is moving in that direction) They actually protect their people before corporate profit. If I cant find organic, my next step is find something imported from the European Union.


I highly recommend Briden Wilson Farm in California : I’ve been purchasing almonds from them for the past three years. They grow the almonds so you know exactly where they’re coming from.


    unfortunately I cannot endorse this business. This is a CA Prop 8 endorser/donator. Thanks for suggestion. I’ll look elsewhere for raw almonds. Have a great day

      Momma Deb

      To zungod… I also Buy locally and would rather support locally. So that being said, what’s wrong with buying unprocessed truly raw almonds directly from your local farmer…. Online.


      I’ll buy from them because they supported Prop 8. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

      Redeemed Mama

      Thanks for making mention of it, “zengod”!! 🙂 BECAUSE they ARE in support of Prop 8, I will make sure to support their business!!!


    I heard from another e-mail source that all almonds from California have more toxins in them than the good.


    Unfortunately, they’ve also allowed the continuous radiation contamination and deception of the triple meltdown in Japan to severely contaminate produce, fruits, nuts, meat, dairy, fish, sea salt, kelp, seaweed, water and everything food in CA, OR, WA, HI, AK, Mexico, Canada, the Pacific and the Gulf with massive amounts of Fluoride, Cesium, Iodine, and hundreds other radioactive toxins.. Be wise, avoid feeding your family food grown and produced with these dangerous isotopes or expect to see infertility, heart disease, cancer, thyroid illness, brain damage, organ damage, hair loss, bone damage and loss, fatigue, and a whole lot more. Nuclear energy is produced with Fluoride, Uranium and Plutonium.. Fluoride is worse than Utanium. I’m usually a big advocate for buying US so this is sad for me to do. In the last 3 years, we’ve stayed diligent knowing everything we consume is from other states while watching our neighbors and Friends, who’ve refused to believe it, just in 3 years, develop testicular cancer, kidney cancer, non-hodgkins, infertility (several couples), water on the heart and chronic infection, Hodgkin’s, rapid aging and hair loss, stopped menstrual cycles (16 yr old and 45 yr old), and mental illness.


      Are you saying it’s not safe to buy food grown in the pacific NW? I live in WA state……


      Hi Patty, I’m very much interested in your research. Could you please share more for I have been seeking answers regarding the food industry and why the attack on our foods or moreso people. I live in Washington State. I’m open to knowledge, please share….




        Hi Lee, I can’t find any studies supporting what Patty says, but I do see a National Academy of Sciences study that demonstrates the amount of additional radiation exposure from eating blue fin tuna after the Fukushima disaster is less than the naturally occurring exposure from eating a single banana. I think you’re going to be okay in Washington.

        There’s a very interesting Radiolab podcast called Double Blasted about a man who happened to be in both Japanese cities when they were bombed. People thought that the descendents of victims of those attacks would be marked for thousands of years, but that hasn’t happened.

        Regardless of all that, take care and live well,



    Thank you! I’ve been looking for a supplier of raw almonds and will add this one to my list.

Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness

This is so interesting and just another great example that the food labels often lie! Thank you for bringing this to my attention!

Jessica Kiehn

no, i wasnt, and now this makes perfect sense. we just bought a big bag of raw almonds at Sams Club (like costco) and i returned them after tasting them. they were awful. even the texture is different. they arent near as crunchy as real raw. This is so frustrating!

    Archana Singh

    I also bought a bag of raw almonds from Sam’s ( last week) and they literally killed me ( I have been eating alomnds all my life), ended up in ER and the reaction was that bad that if there would have been a delay by couple of min I would have crashed right there and then.
    now i am so scared…


I’m totally shocked…I wonder whether I even know what real raw almonds taste like!


My neurotic raw days are over…now I don’t care if they are raw or not, I just get organic almonds and am happy 🙂

As far as almond butter, I sometimes splurge and get the organic kind, but it’s a spendy habit and there are other investments I like better…aritisana coconut butter or tahini, hello!

I still buy the trader joe one from time to time but I don’t eat it that often. You have to weigh your risks…I eat so many awesome organic vegetables and healthy foods that even if they did use this chemical, which they may not, my exposure to it is very small. I imagine that there are chemicals just as bad used on non organic produce all the time…and in meat and dairy it’s probably way worse and I’m not exposed to those at all. So I take the minimal risk and get the benefit of eating one of my favorite foods once in a while 🙂 Truth be told, I eat way more peanut butter than almond butter anyway and I always buy the TJ organic one because it’s organic, it tastes awesome, it’s more cost effective, and I love it 🙂

Unfortunately, we probably breathe in much worse just walking outside in Los Angeles 🙁


    Hi Jeanne, FYI – Even though I am a Nutritionist I don’t go too crazy with eating raw or watching everything, however, two substances I want to ensure are clean and stable is the fats and water I consumer. I believe they can make the greatest impact either good or bad on our bodies. So the biggest concern with nuts being processed or cooked is they may cause the very delicate polyunsaturated fats in them unstable causing them to be equivalent to trans fats and very toxic to our body.


      Hi there, can you give me further information on what you feel is truly “safe” healthy water to drink? Thank you.

Morgan Torres

Makes me wonder what type of almonds are used in boxed organic almond milk!


This is new to me. Thank you for posting.. I am continually frustrated with the American food system.


    I probably don’t know what true raw almonds taste like. I didn’t know this info, but was curious when I would buy what I thought were raw almonds and they tasted stale or steamed.


I had absolutely no idea about this. Thank you for bringing it up. Can’t tell you how much I’ve learned since finding your site!


I love this little blog. I am sad I will be having to step away from juicing for the next months to come (not by my own choice). This was an interesting article and thanks for sharing. =) Good point on the almond milk, eww I’ll just drink regular grass fed. 😉

{lauren} the talking kitchen

Megan, I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award on my blog, because you’re totally awesome and one of my favs! If you wish to pick up the award, check out my latest post. 🙂 Happy Labor Day Weekend!


Thanks for posting this. I have known about this for a while and it is very frustrating to see “raw” almonds still being sold at TJs and other places when they are truly not raw.

I planted an almond tree in my backyard last year just because I was so annoyed by it all! I have a very small yard in NoCal so I plan to keep the tree small, but it’s really nice to pick almonds in my own yard.

Additionally, I found a farm in the Central Valley that sells raw almonds that are pasteurized (and USDA certified) using a very delicate technique that they detail on their website. The technique is non-toxic and maintains the “live” quality of the nuts (you can sprout their nuts) but also passes USDA muster when it comes to their regulations. I can’t remember the name of the company now. I just bought 50 lbs from them last month 🙂 I will look it up and try to post the name here.


    what is the company name?

Darlene Koedel

Darn…I’ve been eating raw almonds forever (I thought). Now what to do????


Great article. Thanks for sharing. It is getting to a point where the EASIEST THING is to leave all family, friends, and life and move to Europe. With all these poisons in food and cheating/lying etc. going on with Big Ag (and even small Ag) it is very difficult to get good-quality food.

I noticed TJ organic almond butter tasted bad… but then again I don’t know if I’ve ever had true “raw” almonds.

Anyway, I’m trying to grow my own food this summer. Don’t have a yard buy my parents have a HUGE backyard.


I don’t understand how you know even the ones in Trader Joe’s are truly raw. Also, I thought the law stated that only people that come to a farm or market that sells them-are you sure you can get them mail-order?


    The almonds at Trader Joe’s are definitely NOT raw. I personally contacted the farm linked above, and they assured me that they could send me truly raw, organic almonds by mail.


Here is a place in Fresno California that sells truly raw almonds. Not sure if they ship or not, but here is the link.


    Just called organic pastures and they informed me that they no longer sell almonds. They stopped when they finished selling their 2013 crop. So this is no longer a source guys. Sorry for us all. Crazy.


Question! I just started buying imported raw almonds and noticed that they have somewhat of a ‘dirty’ exterior… For example, when I soak them to make almond milk the water they soak in gets MUCH dirtier than regular store bought almonds. Do you know what this is or if it’s safe to eat? Or are you supposed to thoroughly clean almonds that are truly raw before eating them?


    Raw almonds naturally have a brownish powdery substance on them, that is the way they are when you crack open the almond shell and get to them, it is not toxic or anything, it is one good way to tell if the almond was processed or not, all almonds I bought at Costco etc retail outlets do not have this type of feel to the almonds, it is because they are not raw. also the chocolate dipped varieties at these stores are when the chocolate coating is applied to the almonds externally, it is not naturally occuring


So we normally buy a 3 lb bag of almonds from BJ’s. not roasted, no salt, but obviously doesn’t say “raw” on the package.

Can I still use them to make almond milk? Wat would be the difference from the truly raw ones?

Joe Ring

The reason you can’t purchase raw almonds is because true, raw almonds actually have significant levels of cyanide. They have to be heat treated. Now, as for sprouted almonds, I would imagine that they would probably be okay. Anyone have an answer about that?


    From wikipedia: “While wild almond species are toxic, domesticated almonds are not; Jared Diamond argues that a common genetic mutation causes an absence of glycoside amygdalin, and this mutant was grown by early farmers, “at first unintentionally in the garbage heaps, and later intentionally in their orchards”.

John This farm sells truly raw almonds and almond flour. They are the best I have had by far.


    When I typed I got a screen that says buy this domain. Possibly they went out of business, however, I followed one of the links displayed and found the below link for a company in San Marcos, CA called Sun Organic Farms.

    I spoke to the owner and he assured me that their almonds are truly organic as noted. They sell both organic (non treated) and TREATED almonds and other variety of nuts. The almonds are called unparalleled meaning they are run of the mill and meant for soaking and milking or macaroons for those who use the meal after milking. It’s best to buy bulk and ask for the flat rate shipping fee which is $14.85. Otherwise you pay for shipping and depending where you are that can drive up the cost. This of course is for those who are on the EST MST side of the map.

      Vivian Fields

      Thanks for this post I will check it out .i have been ordering from 2 Califotnia Farms for years but this year making my almond butter it tastes awful. So I am on a search for true almonds if there is such anymore.
      Has anyone tried almonds from Spain or Argentina?


I have search and search for a website with organic, raw, and unpasturized nuts and seeds resources. Thanks for sharing such valuable information. This definitely helps!


Hello, I live in los angeles as well and was wondering if you recommend any local place to buy bulk raw almonds! Thanks!


I just ordered some raw organic unpasteurized almonds from a company called Terrasoul Superfoods The prices are REALLY good. I talked to their owner before ordering and he was happy to answer all my questions, and even offered to mail some samples. They are a young business and it sounds like they are very passionate about their job.

Mary Ann

Have you checked out the almonds from Burroughs Family Farms? Do they pass the test to be able to soak and sprout? I am looking for raw, unpasteurized, shelled, organic, no chemical fertilizers. I have checked them out and they seem to be this quality, but I am hoping you can give me your insight and knowledge on this site. Thank you!


I’m sorry – I thought that the REASON they are not to be sold raw is because of the cyanide in almonds and that heat treatment (or other) was needed to make them safe. Exactly how toxic are they? and in what quantities do raw almonds have to be consumed before there’s a problem? Everyone here seems to be actively trying to get a product that might actually be bad for them, wouldn’t roasted be a safer bet rather than risking other types of process?


    The bitter almonds are a different variety than the sweet almonds sold domestically. Bitter almonds are the ones with cyanide but not the others.

Was unable to access this website or fine a phone number.
If someone knows how to reach them, would appreciate hearing from you.


I was actually just reading up on almonds and other poisonous foods that are delicious, and the reason the not-really-raw almonds are labelled as ‘raw’ is because if you eat them without being treated in any way, they are poisonous. they are full of cyanide and steaming them (or some other treatment) is needed to kill off the toxin. (same goes for cashews; they contain urushiol which is also toxic until treated).


    About the “poisonous” claims: I’m not so sure about this. The same is said to be true for apricot kernel seeds, due to the cyanide content. BUT, the cyanide in apple seeds, apricot kernels, and wild almonds is supposedly in a bound up form that is non-toxic in the amounts we would eat them. Online research indicates that it is this very cyanide in apricot kernels, in its bound form, that is toxic to cancer cells but harmless to healthy cells in cancer patients. Anyone interested can research ‘apricot kernels’ , Vitamin B17′, and ‘Laetrile,’ which I gather is a manufactured form of the natural vitamin B17. Lots of controversy about cyanide/vitaminb17 years ago, but people have been consuming apricot kernels for generations without harm. Vitamin B17 is hard to get in our American diet. Apparently because of its bitter taste, many of the foods that had it have been hybridized or bred to exclude it. I’ve only found a few foods that are said to still have it. Supposedly millet and cassava still have it. For those interested, B17 is said to be a cancer preventive if you eat 7 apricot kernels a day. And it is said to be a cancer curative for some forms of cancer but I’m not sure of the dose for curing cancer. Rule of thumb is to eat no more apricot kernels than the number of pieces of the actual fruit you would eat in one day.

      Shayne G O'Neill

      8 bitter almond seeds will flat out kill children, and about 20-30 will kill an adult. Its not “bound up”. Bitter almond is straight up life threatening.


      The bitter almonds are a different variety than the sweet almonds sold domestically. Bitter almonds are the ones with cyanide but not the others.


i’m confused!
we have a choice. eating non-raw almonds which have undergone an unhealthy process
to remove cyanide or raw almonds which contain cyanide. which is the best of the 2 evils?


    The bitter almonds are a different variety than the sweet almonds sold domestically. Bitter almonds are the ones with cyanide but not the others.


the talk of cyanide is false, do more research on how California almonds are grown. almonds are no longer grown from sprouting almonds, they are grafted on to fruit tress, this gets rid of the bitter almonds(cyanide) import almonds are still grown from sprouts, and they are allowed 20% bitter nuts in their products.Only place to get truly raw unpasteurized almonds is from the grower. If the place you are buying them from offers other things like almond flour,roasted almonds, this is classified as a processor which means they are not allowed to sell unpasteurized almonds, so they are either breaking the law, or are scamming you.


    Mel I read your post on responding on “do more research on how CA almonds are grown.” I live in Washington state and have been searching for “Raw Almonds” for better health. I’ll like to know more of your understanding on how one can get the correct source if you wouldn’t mind. It’s sad we as a people have to now succumb to micro-investigating what we eat, consume and breathe to fight for life.



Lee Hall

Sorry, but we simply have to pay the extra for buying Italian raw almonds.

The truth is, I hope never to eat anything from California again. Sorry, sorry, truly so, but the Fukashima disaster has raised levels of some truly horrific things in all the water on the West Coast. Oregon, Washington (state), Cali, all are off my list for life, because it will surely take a hundred thousand years or more to clean THAT mess up. As for the primary point of this post (thank you VERY much for the links, our officials are so greedy and corrupt, aren’t they?


I’am willing to sell my raw almonds in the next few weeks after they are picked up and taken to the huller and sheller. They are truly raw almonds. These are Certified Organic by A Bee Organic in California

You have to be aware that a lot of processors are mixing conventional almonds with organic because of the price difference making up too. millions of extra dollars.

If you are late to buy leave your name and number for next year. 209-678-6199 Turlock, Ca. Landline Marc 209 632 9860 Sept 18 2013


You do understand that almonds (like apple seeds, peach pits, cherry pits and many other fruit seeds and nuts) comtain hydrogen cyanide and are toxic… So… I fail to see the logic in avoiding almonds that are just steamed or blanched and ingesting poison. And if your stupid enough to believe that almonds don’t have cyanide like some of you are attesting to so stubbornly, maybe you deserve the cyanide poisoning you have coming. In fact, let’s all eat some raw pork, and chicken as well. I hope that Trichinosis and Salmonella are considered “Whole food!” 🙂


    B-17 (Laetrile) is present in Apple Seeds and Apricot Pits. The Hunzas have zero cancer incidence because in part they consume apricot pits along with the fruit. Hydrogen Cyanide only becomes toxic to the body when the molecule is broken apart which only occurs in cancer tissues. The enzymes necessary to break down HC aren’t present in high enough quantity in normal healthy tissue, only in cancer cells. I’ve personally consumed large quantities of ground apricot pits with the only side effect of mild indigestion. I wonder if the cyanide being discussed here is of the same variety?


      Hey all a brief note from a chemist, with way too much experience in cyanide.
      Yes Almonds have cyanide, yes the heating process will reduce the amount. Hi levels of cyanide are definitely fatal. I will not speculate on how much is in almonds.

      yes there are many types of cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide is actually a gas. It is the gas used in our gas chambers to put prisoners to death. The hydrogen cyanide gas is actually formed in your stomach when the cyanide in the almonds meets your stomach acids. The cyanide runs through your blood system and binds to the iron in your hemoglobin, shutting down your bodies ability to move oxygen. Vitamin B12, which contains cobalt helps, as it binds the cyanide before it reaches the iron in your blood. Your body will clean the cyanide out in a couple days on its own, provided you don’t get too much.

      The cyanide is produced by the almond tree intentionally so that it would make animals sick who ate the nuts. Many seeds, like acorns, have toxins to reduce predation.

      Personally, I am offended that the government will change the meaning of the word “Raw” to mean cooked. That is insane! I would compare it to when the government changed the meaning of the word “lead free plumbing” to mean contains less than 9% lead. If we are to fix any of the problems in this world, we need to have words that are meaningful, and not complete lies.

      Peace to all,


      Thank you RM. According to my online research you are exactly right about the cyanide found in apricot kernels and apple seeds, and about the longevity they confer on the Hunzas. One point of difference is the TYPE of cyanide. I don’t recall seeing it identified as ‘hydrogen cyanide’ but rather another form, but at the moment I cannot remember the name. I remember the article specifically saying that it is NOT the same cyanide that was used in the gas chamber, that it was bound in specific ways so that it could not have the same effect, that there was something special about cancer cells that made them vulnerable to this form of cyanide and that healthy cells were safe from it as long as you didn’t overeat the seeds/nuts that carried the cyanide.


    Jet, that was sort of a toxic comment you made. Most of us here are trying to learn how to improve our health through diet and to that end we are trying to understand sometimes complex info such as this discussion about cyanide in certain seeds and nuts. I hope by now you have learned more about the cyanide content in some foods and that you have learned not to equate it with the threats posed by bacterial contamination in undercooked meats. Eating anything raw, even wholesome organically grown foods can pose some level of health risk, but usually not of the same significance as that posed by the antibiotic resistant bacteria that have evolved in animals raised in feedlots. However, NOT eating some raw, whole, organically grown foods can pose health risks as well. So can the fallout from Fukushima and the chemtrails that are destroying so much of the soil in California and elsewhere, not to mention the blight of GMO crops that have now cross pollinated and contaminated, perhaps for all time, our previously treasured heirloom crops. The blessing of apricot kernels, wild almonds etc for their Vitamin B17 content, which is related to their cyanide content, is that they seem to offer some protection from the cancers that the above-mentioned environmental and food sourced threats pose.


    The bitter almonds are a different variety than the sweet almonds sold domestically. Bitter almonds are the ones with cyanide but not the others.


join the fight!

Jorunn Indrefjord

I live in Norway, and I love to eat raw nuts and almonds. I’ve always heard that this is very good for you, and it tastes wonderful too. Today I read that raw almonds were not allowed in the US, and I can’t understand why.
What is the reason for this ?
I also wonder how GMOs are allowed. That can’t be healthy at all. Who make these strange desicions ?


The reason this 2007 law came into being is because there was a breakout of Salmonella in almonds… we need to be fearful of this when buying ‘raw” at local farmers markets?


How about Almonds Brewers Farm in CA? Grower is Randy Brewer — He does not state “certified organic” but certanly from his descriptions on his sweet but unsophisticated website they would be classified as such. And he clearly states “unpasteurized. I just ordered 5 lb from him and like the idea of supporting a “the little guy” rather than a larger more commercial establisment, and his prices are better than Bremner Farms, I noticed. So….does anyone have any info on this supplier? Also, since the 2007 Law how is that ANYONE in the US grow and sell unpasteurized almonds?
Thanks so much.


    I’m not familiar with that grower, but according to the law passed in 2007, almond growers can receive an exemption if they will only be selling their almonds directly to customers at local markets, with a limit of 100 pounds per person per day in direct farmer’s market sales.


One more IMPORTANT QUESTION: shelled raw organic unpasteurized untreated almonds can become rancid over time. Does anyone know how long you can store them? Best way to store them?


    I’d keep them in the freezer for longest shelf life, but I go through mine fast enough that I can store them in a glass jar at room temperature for up to a month.


Thank you for this article and for supplying where to buy truly raw almonds from. I placed my order for 5 pounds. Also appreciated the almond butter recipe–can’t wait to make my own. I add it to my pale “hummus” made with cauliflower. Love your blog.

Carol Glenn

I am under the assumption that food is irradiated upon entering the United States. If this is true, buying from other countries is accomplishing nothing. Am I correct?


Given that I’m from Israel and I came to your site and I learned from him so much, I’m so grateful to you.
We are importers of raw almonds, and we will be happy to receive testimonials from some countries to buy

Thank you, and have an excellent website


I just called costco and asked what method they use to “sterilize “the almonds ,and they use PPO 🙁
I guess I will go and return my almonds. Omg I been consuming this “all natural” for over 10 years ,
I even make my almond milk with this. What a shame.


babe there is a reason for them to sterilize the almonds because true “raw” almonds are actually poisonous! that was to remove the “toxins” of the raw almonds so that they are fit for consumption.


    Wild varieties of almonds are toxic (they’re also very bitter), but domesticated almonds are not– the domesticated “sweet” type is the almond we are all familiar with. Raw almonds were sold in abundance up until 2007, and they are only pasteurized now because of two past outbreaks of Salmonella, not because they are toxic.

Dennis Botts

What a great informative post! Unpasteurized almonds are safe to eat and enjoyed in most other countries that way. U.S. growers are actually allowed to export their almonds unpasteurized to other countries, so the law isn’t about the safety of the consumer, and unfortunately is about the California Almond Board protecting its market share. My company, Terrasoul Superfoods imports sweet domesticated, certified organic almonds from Spain, and currently offers them for sale on and our own website at

Marjolaine B

Oh! Thanks so much for the information and the useful links to suppliers of good almonds! I wish I had found this two days ago, before I placed my order with Country Life co-op for 25 pounds of ”raw” almonds! 🙁


ok, so i’ve learned a heap about almonds from this post just now. but my reason for stumbling onto it in the first place is because i want to make my own almond milk. i bought raw, excuse me, “raw” almonds, and soaked them for two days. they did not soak up much of the water and still remain hard and crunchy. i was under the impression that after two days, or even after one day, they would become somewhat squishy after absorbing the water. so, is it because my almonds are not “raw”?? what am i doing wrong here? seems like no one else has this issue..

The Ricker

Love that Almond Butter! most Almond Butter costs 11-$25 now. Just go shop at Sprouts and see what I mean, or Whole Foods.


Raw means uncooked.

The “pasteurization of almonds using PPO occurs between 34 and 40 degrees.

This type of pasteurization does not rely on heat like with milk.

Since the average human body has a temperature around 38 degrees then holding the almonds in your hand will make them not raw.

Only PPO vapor is used to pasteurize almonds.

The boiling point of PPO is 34 degrees which means it has a high vapor pressure

This means the liquid will not condense on the almonds and no PPO will be in or on the almonds.

Do you worry about methane, propane or butane contaminating your food when you cook with it?

Nasty is an emotional word, not a scientific term and does not explain anything.

PPO is not mixed with fuel because the mixture is very flammable and difficult to safely handle and use safely for sporting events.

The highest incidence of Salmonella contamination occur with “organically” grown foods and local markets.


Yes, I am aware of this issue. When these laws went into effect, I had already been purchasing raw organic unpasteurized non-pareil almonds from a California family organic almond farm for some years.

A great struggle then ensued, so consumers could continue to purchase the truly raw almonds we wanted. I contributed my input to get the laws changed or excepted because I wanted non-pasteurized almonds. I believe chemically or heat treated almonds are bad for the health of my family. I understand that heat treatment destroys valuable vitamins and enzymes and in addition that processing chemicals are poisonous.

The reason this law was instituted was due to a very small incidence of salmonella in people who had eaten almonds in the US. There were as I recall only a total of appx. 3 people in the US who were affected, and they had eaten only commercially grown almonds. NONE of them had eaten organically grown almonds.

This law threatened the existence of small organic family farms, since it can be expensive to institute processing procedures. In addition, it is generally against the philosophy of organic family farmers to use health-destroying measures like this, as they want to maintain the health value of organic foods.

As I understand it, the result ultimately was that these family almond farms are legally able to sell unpasteurized, truly raw, almonds when the consumer purchases them directly from these family farms, although there may be some quantity limit.

I purchase my certified organic and truly raw almonds from Mr. Glenn Anderson, who has a family farm in Northern California. I have found him over the years to be a person of high integrity with a great old-fashioned attitude of courteous customer service and extremely fair prices. His web site is:

Thank you for bringing this important matter to more consumers. It is a travesty that almonds can be labeled “raw” when treated with heat or chemicals. Allowing processed almonds to be labeled “raw” misinforms consumers. I believe the consumer has a right to purchase food that is safe and healthy, and in order to do that, the consumer needs legally available food sources and accurate information, including the correct labeling of foods.

I highly recommend that you and your web site viewers check out The Center for Food Safety at: I discovered this web site with gratitude. These folks support pending legislation (including accurate consumer labeling) to protect consumers, our food supply, our seed stock, and viability of our earth. Those who get on their action list will be informed of such pending legislation and will receive email links, so they can contact elected representatives to express their viewpoint. Together, we have a voice, and this is the time to get involved, as legislation is pending regarding Genetically Modified Foods. Learn more at

Thank you!


    Thank you for providing this information. I have been buying raw almonds – not organic from Trader Joe’s for years.

    I am concerned however for not exposing my family to salmonella poisoning. How can we avoid the chemicals and protect my family from bacteria?

    Thanks so much.

      Brian Paddock

      I am an organic almond farmer in northern CA. It is a valid question to balance eating an unpasteurized product vs a fumigated or cooked one and lose the health benefits. Understanding the background of the pasteurization law is important, it is the result of a threat mainly due to the method almonds are typically harvested, onto the orchard floor where there are plenty of pathogens. The law mandated pasteurization of CA almonds and eventually carved out an exemption that you CAN buy CA unpasteurized almonds directly from the farmer. But chances are that farmer harvests onto the orchard floor and there is a chance bacteria can migrate to the almond and your mouth. Part of my food safety plan is that we harvest onto tarps, not the ground, thus avoiding the pathogens. So YES, you can source CA raw almonds and get them in a safe manner. Yo learn more check out our website I have nothing to hide and enjoy teaching people how I grow their food.


Thank you for writing this article – quite informative! Are there similar laws for other types of nuts or is it just almonds?

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