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Drinking Unpasteurized Juice or Cider May Pose Health Risks

Drinking Unpasteurized Juice or Cider May Pose Health Risks

Consume fresh juices and ciders safely this Fall! Juices provide many important nutrients, but consuming untreated juices can pose health risks to your family.

Did You Know?

When fruits and vegetables are fresh-squeezed or used raw, bacteria from the produce can end up in your juice or cider. Unless the produce or the juice has been pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy any harmful bacteria, the juice could be contaminated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received reports of serious outbreaks of foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning,” that have been traced to drinking fruit and vegetable juice and cider that has not been treated to kill harmful bacteria.

While most people’s immune systems can usually fight off the effects of foodborne illness, children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems (such as transplant patients and individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes) risk serious illnesses or even death from drinking untreated juices.

Warning Labels

Most of the juice sold in the United States is pasteurized (heat-treated) to kill harmful bacteria. Juice products may also be treated by non-heat processes for the same purpose. However, some grocery stores, health food stores, cider mills, farmers’ markets, and juice bars sell packaged juice that was made on site that has not been pasteurized or otherwise treated to ensure its safety. These untreated products should be kept under refrigeration and are required to carry the following warning on the 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.

However, FDA does not require warning labels for juice or cider that is sold by the glass – for example, at apple orchards, farmers’ markets, roadside stands, juice bars, and some restaurants.

What to Look for When Purchasing Juice

  • Look for the warning label to avoid the purchase of untreated juices. You can find pasteurized or otherwise treated products in your grocers’ refrigerated sections, frozen food cases, or in non-refrigerated containers, such as juice boxes, bottles, or cans. Untreated juice is most likely to be sold in the refrigerated section of a grocery store.
  • Ask if you are unsure if a juice product is treated, especially for juices sold in refrigerated cases in grocery or health food stores, cider mills, or farmers’ markets. Also, don’t hesitate to ask if the labeling is unclear or if the juice or cider is sold by the glass.

For more information, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety Information Center at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (toll free), or visit the FDA website at http://www.fda.gov/educationresourcelibrary.

Article submitted by Linda Hyder, UT Extension, [email protected]

About UT Extension - Sevier County

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. It is a statewide educational organization, funded by federal, state and local governments, that brings research-based information about agriculture, family and consumer sciences, and resource development to the people of Tennessee where they live and work. Sevier News Messenger distributes UT Extension news as a courtesy. UT Extension - Sevier County can be found at https://extension.tennessee.edu/Sevier