Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Unpasteurized Apple Juice Leads to Two Outbreaks

Fresh apple cider in autumn...nothing better.

But unfortunately, contamination on apples can make its way into the cider unless preventive controls are taken.  So far this season, there have been two examples of contamination in fresh cider.

A small California farm stand, High Hill Ranch, was linked to seven cases of E. coli illness among  residents who consumed the unpasteurized apple juice from High Hill Ranch in mid-October.
In an statement issued by the owners of the farm, it appears that they are missing the point (below).
E. coli is more likely to be picked up from ground apples (wind fallen apples, drops, or whatever you want to call them).

A second case in Illinois may be a case of cryptosporidium, a parasite often originating from a contaminated water source, such as contaminated wash water or irrigation water.  Again, apples off the ground can be an issue.

Many folks like to have that fresh juice, however having it processed can eliminate any potential risk.  This is the reason the Juice HACCP regulation of 2001 was implemented.  There are other means of having it process that do not impact the flavor as much as heat pasteurization.  One is UV treatment and the other is high pressure processing.  These two methods impact flavor less but can help retain that fresh

County of El Dorado
High Hill Ranch Issues Voluntary Recall of Unpasteurized Apple Juice

Department: Public Health Contact: Creighton Avila  Phone#: (530) 621-5153
Date: October 23, 2015

High Hill Ranch, located in the community of Camino in El Dorado County, has initiated a voluntary recall of its unpasteurized apple juice following notification from local health officials of suspected contamination with bacteria, likely Escherichia coli (E. coli.). El Dorado County health officials are warning consumers to not drink and dispose of any unpasteurized apple juice purchased from High Hill Ranch on or after October 6, 2015.

The El Dorado County Environmental Management and Public Health divisions were notified this week by the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services of at least seven (7) cases of E. coli illness among Sacramento County residents who consumed the unpasteurized apple juice from High Hill Ranch in mid-October. The apple juice was consumed at home or at High Hill Ranch. One person has been hospitalized and is expected to recover.

E. coli is caused by the Escherichia coli bacteria. People can get sick when they consume food or drink that is contaminated by the bacteria. Symptoms of E. coli illness typically include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and sometimes low-grade fever. The symptoms usually occur within 3-4 days after exposure, but can occur anywhere between 1 to 12 days after exposure.

Most people who get sick from E. coli recover within 5 to 7 days. Supportive care, such as making sure a person drinks plenty of liquids and gets rest are important for people with the illness. For severe cases, particularly in children, elderly people or those with underlying health problems, a health care provider should be consulted.

The El Dorado County Environmental Management Division, Public Health Division and California Department of Public Health are working closely with the management at High Hill Ranch to determine the source of the potential contamination. The High Hill Ranch Management has pulled the product from the shelves.

The Environmental Management Division conducts routine inspections of food establishments in El Dorado County. For questions about the program, or other questions about the current recall at High Hill Ranch, please contact Environmental Management at (530) 621-5300.

"It was recently brought to our attention by the health department that in mid-October, some people reported getting sick after visiting our ranch. We are very sorry for this. There is some speculation that it may have been caused by drinking the apple juice. We have always offered free samples at our juice-making facility, so that the people could try the juice before buying it. Unfortunately, hundreds of people touch the filler nozzle everyday to fill the sample cups. With so many people getting sick this time of the year this very well could have spread a virus to the sample jug. We regret that for health concerns, the free samples will have to discontinue. We are also having the juice tested as a precaution to make absolutely sure all is well, because after making juice for 50 years and not having any complaints, we want to make sure that the good track record continues. Most people have probably already drank the juice they brought but our friends at the health department think it prudent to discard what’s left. The testing will be done in short order on our juice. Until then, we have the excellent Barsotti Apple juice along with all their other great products."
Thank You, Jerry & Michelle Visman

Adams County (IL) Press Release
Gastrointestinal Illness Associated with Consumption of Apple Cider at the Pike County Color Drive 

The Pike County Health Department and the Adams County Health Department along with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is investigating a cluster of gastrointestinal (GI) illness associated with the Pike County Color Drive, a large fall festival that spans several communities in Pike County, IL. There have been 30 suspect cases of GI illness identified in attendees of the festival who consumed apple cider purchased from vendors at two locations. The etiologic agent has not yet been confirmed; health care providers should be encouraged to test for E. coli and Cryptosporidium until further information is available. 

Ill individuals have reported symptoms including profuse diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and vomiting. Onset dates range from October 20 – 28. Persons have been hospitalized as a result of this illness, and additional illnesses continue to be reported. Further laboratory testing is pending. Symptoms usually last about 1 to 2 weeks (with a range of a few days to 4 or more weeks) in persons with healthy immune systems. Occasionally, people may experience a recurrence of symptoms after a brief period of recovery before the illness ends. Symptoms can come and go for up to 30 days. People who are especially vulnerable to this illness include: pregnant women, children under 2 years, elderly and immunocompromised individuals. If you attended the festival or consumed apple cider purchased from vendors at the festival and feel that you have these symptoms, contact your health care provider.

Investigators are seeking additional cases of GI illness that attended the Pike County Color Drive during October 17-18 and consumed apple cider purchased during the event. If you have apple cider that was purchased during the event that is fresh or frozen for future use, do not consume it. Contact your local health department so that the cider can be tested. Pike County Health Department: 217/285.4407 Adams County Health Department: 217.222.8440. Health officials who identify cases with this exposure history are asked to contact the IDPH Communicable Disease Control Section at 217-782-2016 or email justin.albertson@illinois.gov

For additional media questions contact: Emily Andrews  Adams County Health Department
217.222.8440 x 121 eandrews@co.adams.il.us

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