December 15, 2019

Don’t Drink Unpasteurized Juice For Food Safety Reasons

Fall is the season for fresh juices, including apple and grape juices. The FDA has tips for what you need to know about juice and food safety: namely, don’t drink unpasteurized juice or cider.

Don't Drink Unpasteurized Juice For Food Safety Reasons

If you drink untreated, or unpasteurized, juices, you run the risk of contracting food poisoning. In fact, in 2015, E. coli bacteria in High Hill Ranch unpasteurized apple juice sickened seen people. And in 2013, a Cryptosporidium outbreak in Iowa linked to unpasteurized apple cider sickened 11 people. Any juice made from produce can be contaminated just like the fresh produce can be. Pasteurization kills pathogens, making the juices and ciders safe to drink.

Most of the juice for sale in the U.S. is heat-treated to kill bacteria. But some grocery stores, health food stores, farmers’ markets, cider mills, and juice markets sell packaged juice made on site that has not been pasteurized. All of these products should be kept refrigerated, and must carry this warning label: “WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and therefore may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.”

But, the FDA does not require these types of warning labels for any juice or cider that is sold by the glass. This happens at some roadside stands, juice bars, orchards, and restaurants.

So to protect yourself and your family, look for the warning label when purchasing juice. Ask about pasteurization if you aren’t completely sure the product was heat treated. Always ask if the juice or cider is sold by the glass.

When you’re making juice at home, always wash your hands well before starting. Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before juicing them. Discard any produce that looks rotten. Scrub fresh produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush, even if you plan to peel it first. Bacteria can transfer from the skin to the flesh of these items. Then, dry the rinsed produce with a clean towel or paper towel to further reduce any bacteria.

Finally, know the symptoms of foodborne illness and contact your doctor immediately if someone gets sick after consuming juice or cider.

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