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Iowans Should Avoid Unpasteurized Juices

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

As autumn arrives in Iowa, so does the availability of fresh apple cider. Unfortunately, cider and other unpasteurized juices have been linked with outbreaks of disease. Federal law requires a warning label on raw apple cider - cider that is not heat processed (pasteurized) - since this can pose a health risk, especially to children and those who have weakened immune systems. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria and extends the product's shelf-life.

Pasteurized products include those packaged in cans, bottles, and boxes that are found unrefrigerated in the grocery store. Unpasteurized products may be purchased as freshly pressed from local orchards, roadside stands, or farmer's markets. They may also be found on ice or in refrigerated display cases and in produce sections at grocery stores.

"The risk of contracting illness from fresh cider is low," said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) medical director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. "But children, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system should take special precautions to protect themselves against any food that could be contaminated." Raw apple cider should not be served to these individuals, including children younger than 8 years old.

The following guidelines should be followed to ensure safe apple cider products:

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* Apple cider should be made from whole, fresh apples that have not been dropped or found on the ground.

* Cider presses and all equipment used to make cider should be washed with a non-corrosive cleanser and thoroughly dried.

* All cider storage containers should be sanitized with a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per one gallon of clean water.

* Cider should be kept refrigerated at 40 F or cooler.

Cider which is contaminated with bacteria does not look, smell or taste different from normal apple cider. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that concerned consumers can reduce their risk of illness by heating their unpasteurized apple cider to at least 170 F before drinking. If at any time you question whether a cider has been treated to destroy harmful bacteria, avoid drinking it.