The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is reminding people to make sure apple juice and cider are pasteurized before consuming this annual autumn favourite.
The BCDC states unpasteurized apple juice and cider, commonly available at local farmers markets, can become infected with harmful bacteria like e. coli and salmonella.
“The vast majority of juice sold in B.C. is safe, but only pasteurization can ensure that apple juice and cider are free of harmful pathogens.”
To avoid infection by food-borne bacteria, retailers and consumers should check with the producer or vendor before purchasing apple juice or cider and determine if it has been pasteurized.
If the label does not provide this information, consumers can ask their retailer or producer, or phone the manufacturer listed on the label.
“When in doubt, consumers should take precautions and consider the risks before consumption,” states the BCDC.
Here are some other tips for consumers.
Boil unpasteurized apple juice and cider for one minute before consuming.
Avoid serving unpasteurized apple juice and cider products to those most at risk (young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems).
Freezing and refrigeration do not make unpasteurized apple juice or cider safe.
Ensure freshness and quality by refrigerating apple juice and cider products and respecting their best-before dates.
If you believe that you have become ill as a result of drinking unpasteurized apple juice or cider, see a doctor immediately and notify your local health authority.
Symptoms of infection from e. coli or salmonella can include stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms can occur within two to 10 days of consuming contaminated food.
Up to eight per cent of people infected with e. coli O157:H7 can have severe kidney damage which may lead to death, with the greatest risk in children under five years of age.