A group of 15 almond and wholesale nut farmers in California have filed a lawsuit against the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a 2007 regulation requiring them to spray or steam-heat their almonds before selling them to customers. The spray they have to use is propylene oxide, which the EPA classifies as a carcinogen.
The regulation came as a result of two salmonella outbreaks within the past 10 years that the USDA linked to raw almonds from California, though some sources say one of the outbreaks originated largely from one of the bigger almond factory farms in the area.
Family-owned and organic farmers — those hurt most by the mandate — claim it has choked their profits and upset their customers because sprayed or steamed almonds aren’t technically considered “raw” anymore. Their case is based on the opinion that the USDA exceeded its authority and didn’t follow proper procedure to pass the regulation.
Farmers say the USDA should enforce less risky production practices in larger factory farms instead of requiring all farmers to spray their crops.
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