Q. Is there any danger of salmonella contamination in raw almonds?
A. V. Paige Murphy, a dietetic intern at Tufts' Frances Stern Nutrition Center, answers: "All almonds sold and purchased within the United States - even those labeled 'raw' - have been pasteurized. This is required by law. After several outbreaks of human salmonellosis were linked to whole raw almonds, researchers discovered that low levels of salmonella occur naturally in the soil across the California almond region (where virtually all almonds distributed in the US are grown). As a result, all almonds and almond products must be pasteurized to kill any existing bacteria (like salmonella) before they can be sold.
"Although salmonella contamination is one of the most common bacterial causes of food-borne illness, there have been few issues since the pasteurization mandate was issued. A study published in 2011 on salmonellosis from consumption of almonds reported that the risk of contamination is now exceptionally low - with an average of only eight cases per trillion servings. With the careful regulations in place, you can feel safe to consume almonds in any form you choose. That being said, you should pay attention to any and all food recalls!"