What does it mean when a raw almond is steam pasteurized?
There was a law passed by USDA that almonds have to be pasturized, which means being treated with a fumigant or high-temperature heat. What I am not clear about if this only applies to California almonds. The argument is that it punishes small growers and also takes the health benefits away from almonds.
The new protocols require all raw almonds sold in North America to be pasteurized, thereby killing off any wayward bacteria. How? By quick-steaming the nuts, or spraying them with propylene oxide (PPO), a chemical so nasty that it was banned by both the National Hot Rod and American Motorcycle Racing Associations, where it had been used as a fuel before being deemed too dangerous. PPO is also a carcinogen. At Whole Foods Market we only sell the steam pasteurized nut organic as well as conventional.