With the arrival of apple season and fall fairs, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is reminding people that unpasteurized apple juice and cider can sometimes be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella.
In the last decade in North America more than 1,700 people have fallen ill after consuming juice and cider. Most of these outbreaks involved unpasteurized juices and ciders such as apple cider, orange juice and lemonades.
While the vast majority of apple juice and cider sold in B.C. is not dangerous, the safety of unpasteurized products cannot be confirmed. Only pasteurized apple juice and cider are free of pathogens. Unpasteurized apple juice and cider should be boiled for at least a minute before drinking to kill any pathogens that might be present.
There are several local producers of apple juice in the Lower Similkameen. Consumers have little to worry about when purchasing from these producers, as their products are all pasteurized.Worrenberg’s Farm, located on Upper Bench Road, is a local producer of apple juice, all of which is safe.
“We pasteurize all our apple juice,” said Marcus Keller of Worrenberg’s. “There is a chance that E-coli could be picked up on an apple that was laying in an orchard that had had manure on it, but the possibility is slight. We don’t use culls in our juice – heat treatment or ultraviolet gets rid of the bacteria.”
Keller noted that Worrnberg’s didn’t sell fresh apple juice unless it was going to be made into alcoholic cider.
“The fermentation process also kills any bacteria,” he added.Worrenberg apple juice is available at the farmgate, and in local health food stores.
Mariposa Orchards also produces apple juice, which is made by a mobile juicing machine that turns out a completely finished product that is pasteurized and packaged.
“Our apple juice will keep for a year after bottling,” said Edith Schwetje, owner of Mariposa. “Because it’s vacuum sealed, it’s good for three months in the fridge after opening.” Mariposa juice is available for purchase at their fruit stand.
Both retailers and consumers should check before buying apple juice or cider to determine if it has been pasteurized. If this information is not on the label, ask the retailer or producer, or phone the number on the product label. If you cannot be certain, consider the possible risks to you and your family before buying the product.
Freezing or refrigeration will not make unpasteurized apple juice or cider safe. Ensure freshness and quality by refrigerating apple juice and cider and respecting their best-before dates.