Best Practices for the Production of Sweet Apple Cider - Operations Management

Chemical and microbiological contaminants can be introduced in sweet apple cider at any step during the production process.

Pasteurization and ultraviolet treatment can reduce microbiological contamination in your product if your equipment is in good working order and operated correctly. However, these methods will not prevent post-treatment contamination. Scientific studies have shown that application of a "kill step" (pasteurization or ultraviolet treatment) alone without application of best practices may not always be sufficient to prevent contamination with microorganisms that can cause food borne illnesses.

If you supply apple cider to children, the elderly or immuno-compromised people, you should pasteurize or UV- treat your cider. If you do not treat your cider, ensure it is clearly labelled as Unpasteurized.

The following are best practices all cider pressers should follow to minimize the risks of contamination whether you apply a pathogen-reduction treatment or not.

Fruit Quality

  • Check all fruit for quality. Throw away damaged, rotten, soiled or wormy apples
  • Custom pressers should enter into a Grower's Agreement and monitor incoming produce

Fruit Sorting

  • Use only sound, whole apples - pathogenic bacteria can penetrate into the damaged areas of apples where they are inaccessible to disinfection treatments
  • Avoid using open calyx which are more susceptible to patulin contamination
  • Use only food-grade surfaces to inspect apples
  • Check apples before they enter the flume or wash-water
  • Follow best practices for apple management (see Apple Management infosheet)

Fruit Cleaning

  • Wash, brush and rinse all fruit to eliminate foreign material including soil, insect fragments, bird and rodent droppings
  • Use potable (drinking) water for washing and rinsing
  • Wash water should be at least 5°C warmer than the fruit being pressed - this prevents contaminants in the wash water from being drawn into the flesh or core of the fruit
  • Do not recycle flume, wash and rinse water

Premises

  • Press cider in an enclosed area
  • Adopt good manufacturing practices to ensure facilities are clean and properly sanitized
  • Keep animals and insects out of the processing facility

Equipment

  • Use stainless steel or food-grade equipment for food-contact surfaces
  • Clean, rinse and sanitize all equipment and utensils used in all steps of production at least daily

Water Supply

  • Keep all water-testing records up-to-date and readily retrievable (at a minimum, water quality should be tested annually)
  • Use potable (drinking) water for processing
  • Provide hot and cold water at adequate pressure
  • Ensure there is no connection between the potable water and non-potable water systems

Personnel

  • Ensure good employee hygiene and behaviour
  • Provide proper washroom facilities
  • Exclude ill workers from the processing operation

Fruit Processing

  • Keep processing area clean
  • Clean and sanitize all equipment and press cloths after each batch, particularly if you custom press
  • Dispose of pomace after each day's run
  • Keep records of any ingredients, such as preservatives, that you add during processing
  • Keep records of all microbial testing
  • Lot code each production run

 


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 28 March 2012
Last Reviewed: 28 March 2012