FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — An appeals court ruled Friday that federal officials have the authority to require that all California almonds be treated for salmonella following outbreaks linked to almonds from the state.
The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court decision.
The case stemmed from a 2007 order by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that all California almonds sold domestically be pasteurized with heat or treated with chemicals.
The order followed two salmonella outbreaks linked to California almonds. Almond experts acknowledge that salmonella in almonds is rare.
An exemption to the order was given to small-scale growers, who were allowed sell untreated almonds, but only directly to the public from farm stands or on-farm sales.
A group of California almond growers argued that although Vilsack may prohibit the sale of contaminated almonds to prevent the spread of salmonella, he lacked authority to require that all almonds be treated irrespective of whether they were contaminated.