28 September 2010

FDA cautions public about apple cider safety this fall

As fall arrives, many of us look forward to enjoying fresh apple cider and juices. While most people think of juice as a healthy food, since they provide many important nutrients, certain types of juice could pose a health risk to you and your family.

When fruits and vegetables are fresh-squeezed to produce juice, any bacteria that are present on the inside or the outside of the produce can become part of the finished product. Unless the juice is further processed to destroy harmful bacteria, it could be unsafe for those most at risk for food-borne illness. While most people’s immune systems can usually fight off food-borne illnesses, people in these “at-risk groups” are vulnerable to serious illness from drinking juice that has not been processed to kill bacteria. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) advises that these groups should drink unpasteurized juice only if they bring it to a boil first to kill any harmful bacteria. The FDA does not require warning labels for juice or cider that is fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass at orchards, farm markets, roadside stands, or in some restaurants or juice bars. So, if you happen to stop at a roadside or farmers market where samples of cider and apple juice are available, make sure to ask whether the juice has been treated.

Unless the produce or juice has been treated to destroy any harmful bacteria, the juice could be contaminated. Some grocery stores, health food stores, cider mills, and farm markets often sell packaged juice that was made on site that has not been pasteurized or processed to ensure its safety. These untreated products should be kept refrigerated and are required to carry a warning label.

Here are two steps to ensure juice safety this fall:

1. Always Read the Label

Look for the warning label to avoid juice that has not been pasteurized or otherwise treated. To be specific, look for the warning label on any packaged juice product that may have been made on site, such as at grocery and health food stores, cider mills, or farm markets.

2. When in Doubt, Ask

Always ask if you are unsure if a juice product is pasteurized or not. Pasteurized juice is normally found in your grocers’ frozen food cases, refrigerated section, or on the shelf in containers such as juice boxes, bottles, or cans. Do not hesitate to ask questions if the label is unclear or if the juice or cider is sold by the glass.

For more information see www.fda.gov or contact 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

Jill Paschal | @VegCookin
Jill is the owner of the online vegan bookstore VegCookin. She is a continuing student majoring in Business Management and loves to travel world cultures via cuisine.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/chiotsrun