Apple Cider Production - Microbial Contamination

Potential Sources of Microbial Contamination in Unpasteurized Apple Cider

Historically, unpasteurized apple cider has been considered a safe product, free from microbial pathogens due to its high acidity. However, during the last two decades unpasteurized apple cider has been associated with several outbreaks of food borne illness.

To identify possible sources of microbial contamination and to assess the effect of good cleaning and sanitation practises on microbial quality and safety of unpasteurized apple cider, samples of unwashed apples, washed apples, cleaning water, fresh cider and finished cider, were collected from five Ontario producers during a four month period. Each sample was microbiologically tested.

Result Summary

  1. Apple washing was identified as a potential source of contamination at some of the facilities assessed in this study. Contamination sources included water in the dump tanks seldom being refreshed and scrubbers, spray nozzles and conveyors that were not properly cleaned and sanitized.
  2. Higher total coliform counts and prevalence in fresh cider compared to both unwashed apples and washed apples indicated considerable microbial build-up along the process
  3. Results showed that producers with better sanitary practices in place had lower levels of coliforms on unwashed and washed apples, and in the fresh cider.

All cider producers, including those that pasteurize and/or ultraviolet treat their product, should have a good manufacturing practices program in place to prevent contamination.



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Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 28 March 2012
Last Reviewed: 28 March 2012