In most parts of the country, the fall harvest brings crops of fresh apples, fruit juices and ciders. These typically unpasteurized juice products are found at farmers’ markets, local orchards, cider mills, roadside stands and juice bars, but they may also be available at local grocery stores and supermarkets.
It is important to know that unpasteurized juices and ciders may be contaminated with harmful bacteria, parasites or viruses.
Although unpasteurized juices and ciders won’t make most healthy adults seriously ill, they can make young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems very ill, and can even lead to death.
Even though the likelihood of food borne illness from these products is low, Health Canada has published updated guidance for unpasteurized juice and cider. This guidance indicates that better consumer labelling, strengthening the industry code of practice, and educating vulnerable groups will further reduce the number of cases of food borne illness associated with these products.
What you should do
The majority of juice sold in Canada is safe as it has been pasteurized (treated with heat or ultraviolet light) to kill harmful microorganisms and prolong shelf-life.
If the juice you wish to buy is not labelled as “pasteurized,” ask the vendor or call the information number that is found on the product. If you are in doubt, bring the product to a boil before consuming.
Symptoms of food poisoning can include stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. They can occur within two to 10 days of consuming a contaminated food. If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect that food may be a cause, speak to your health care provider right away.