In the past few years, several disease outbreaks have been caused by bacteria or toxins in fruits and vegetables.
In 2012, six BC residents became ill with hepatitis A virus after consuming a mixed frozen fruit blend; pomegranate seeds from Egypt were identified as the probably source.
In 2011, a large outbreak that started in Germany caused nearly 4,000 illnesses throughout Europe. People became ill after eating raw sprouts in salads and sandwiches (fenugreek sprouts). The pathogen was a novel toxin producing E. coli.
Other outbreaks were connected to spinach contaminated with E.coli in 2006, and jalapeno peppers contaminated with salmonella in 2008. A BC spinach outbreak in 2001 led to the creation of guidelines for growers about the importance of managing water and fertilizer sources.
In 1996, there was an international outbreak of E.coli in unpasteurized commercial apple juice in BC and 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. 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 illness and carrot juice has been linked to botulism. Even cranberry juice and other acidic juices may contain harmful bacteria if not properly treated or formulated.