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Feds may mandate fresh juice pasteurization

apples December 16, 1996
Web posted at: 10:15 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Apple juices and ciders, and possibly other fruit juices, would have to be pasteurized under safety rules being considered by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA began a two-day hearing on fresh fruit juice safety Monday, in response to an apple juice contamination with E. coli bacteria that killed one child and sickened dozens of people on the West Coast.

"Current production practices do not guarantee the safety of apple cider, apple juice and orange juice," Dr. Patricia Griffin of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the panel.

Simply washing the fruit and adding preservatives do not appear to provide enough safeguards, Griffin said.

But a Florida orange juice maker said creating one rule for all juices would be inappropriate, because contaminants affect different types of juice in different ways.

"You cannot compare apples to oranges," said Steven Bogen of the FreshJuice Company.

Odwalla Inc., the company that made the juice that was contaminated, has since started "flash pasteurizing" its apple juice, a quicker version of conventional pasteurization.


Some scientists urged the FDA to proceed slowly.

"It's tempting to apply what may seem to be a quick fix -- pasteurization -- but it may also be unnecessary," said Dr. Douglas Archer of the University of Florida.

People want fresh juice because they think it tastes better and is more nutritious, Archer said. It can be sold safely if companies have proper sanitation, he said.

The FDA is also considering whether to require labeling of unpasteurized juices. Its decisions are expected next year.


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