In the wake of a salmonella outbreak that may be linked to raw almonds, the Almond Board of California has called for pasteurization of the nut.

A nationwide recall last month followed the salmonella outbreak.

"By March 2005, we expect to have 100% industry compliance with a pasteurization step for raw almonds," aid Richard Waycott, president and chief executive officer of the industry’s grower-funded marketing system that sells more than 1 billion pounds of almonds every year. He noted that the step will be voluntary at first. Industry officials will ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make the step mandatory, and Waycott said he expects that could happen sooner than March.

Some who sell raw almonds — many of them organic — expressed concern about how pasteurization could affect their sales. Marcie Baugher, owner of Baugher Ranch Organics in Orland who sells some raw almonds, is among those concerned about the possibility of losing customers.

"Are we going to steer away from every form of raw food available?" she asked. "Some people do not want processed foods, they want living foods."

Ninety-five percent of almonds already undergo processing that leaves them dry- or oil-roasted, slivered, blanched, flavored or used in processed foods.