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

"By March 2005, we expect to have 100% industry compliance with a pasteurization step for raw almonds," Waycott said, noting that the step will be voluntary at first. Industry officials will ask the USDA to make the step mandatory.

The board did not specify a form for treatment, and Waycott said "there are several technologies in development and testing" that could be used to pasteurize almonds. He said the processes include exposure to propylene oxide.

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