Juices provide many essential nutrients, but consuming untreated juices can pose health risks to your family. The FDA has revealed reports of serious outbreaks of food borne illness 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 system can usually fight off the effects of food borne illness, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems risk serious illnesses or even death from drinking untreated juices.
Since 1999, the FDA has required juice manufacturers to place warning information on product containers about health risks of drinking untreated juice or cider. Only a small portion of all fruit and vegetable juices sold in supermarkets is not treated to kill harmful bacteria. These products are required to carry the following warning 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.
You should note that the FDA does not require warning labels for juice or cider that is fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass, such as at apple orchards, at farm markets, at roadside stands, or in some juice bars. If you’re unsure if a glass of juice or cider has been treated, be sure to ask.
Here are 2 simple steps to juice safety:
1. Always read the label, look for the warning label to avoid the purchase of untreated juice. 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.
2. When in doubt, Ask! Always ask if you’re unsure if a juice product is treated, especially for juice sold in refrigerated cases of grocery or health food stores, cider mills, or farm markets. Also, don’t hesitate to ask if the labeling is unclear or if the juice or cider is sold by the glass.
Food borne illness: Be Aware of the symptoms.
Consuming dangerous food borne bacteria will usually cause illness within one to three days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to six weeks later. In addition, sometimes food borne illness is confused with other types of illness. Symptoms of food borne illness usually include flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, fever, headache, body ache, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Everyone can practice safe food handling by following these four simple steps:
Clean, separate, chill, and cool
For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.