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Juices and Cider

 Freshly pressed apple juice is sometimes called apple cider in North America. Ciders normally describe fermented fruit juices. When you purchase fresh pressed juice or cider, be aware of the risks associated with unpasteurized juices.

In 1996, there was an international outbreak of E.coli O157  in unpasteurized commercial apple juice in BC, California, Colorado and Washington States.  There were 45 illnesses, many of those ill were young children who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, affecting their kidney function. (JAMA1996; 276(23):1865).  The cause of the outbreak was most likely related to apples that had been exposed to manure in the orchards.  Because the apple juice was not pasteurized or heat-treated, the bacteria was able to survive in the juice.  After this outbreak codes of practice for industry and labelling requirements were put in place.  This included removing manure from orchard fields, implementing a pasteurization and filtration practice to remove harmful germs and discontinuing roadside sales.

Other types of juices have caused illness too.  Orange juice has been linked to Salmonella  illnesses (JAMA 1998;280(17):1504-1509), carrot juice has been linked to botulism  illnesses (CID 2008; 47(10):1245-1251), and even cranberry juice  and other acidic juices may contain harmful bacteria if not properly treated or formulated (JFP 2007;70(9):2072-2077).

If you are preparing your own freshly prepared apple juices or ciders, follow the recommendations in this food safety note to safety remove germs from your juices – DON’T DRINK IT RAW – how to pasteurize juice and cider safely.  This is most important for people who may be immuno-compromised, very young, elderly or women who are pregnant.  You should heat treat your juice to 70°C (158°F) for one minute to destroy harmful bacteria and spoilage organisms - germs, yeasts and moulds.  Use fresh fruits that have not fallen onto the ground, and wash and sanitize the fruit before use.  If you are making your own fermented cider you may also heat your juice before adding the yeast and starting the fermentation process. 

Always read the label on freshly pressed juices you purchase at a retailer – in Canada, if the juice is unpasteurized, this must be declared on the label. 

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