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J Food Prot. 2006 Feb;69(2):293-8.

Pathogen reduction in unpasteurized apple cider: adding cranberry juice to enhance the lethality of warm hold and freeze-thaw steps.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Food Science, Wisconsin 53706-1565, USA. scingham@wisc.edu


U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations require processors of apple cider sold wholesale to use processing steps that ensure a 5-log reduction in numbers of the pertinent pathogen, generally considered to be Escherichia coli O157:H7. Current widely used validated pathogen-reduction steps are thermal pasteurization and UV light treatment. These techniques may be unaffordable or undesirable for some processors. This study investigated the cran-cider process, which is the addition of cranberry juice at a 15% (vol/vol) level, followed by warm hold (45 degrees C for 2 h) and freeze-thaw steps (-20 degrees C for 24 h, 5 degrees C for 24 h). When enumeration procedures did not include injury repair, the cran-cider process achieved a > or = 5-log reduction in numbers of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella serovars, and Listeria monocytogenes. However, an injury-repair step was included in the pathogen enumeration procedure in confirmatory trials, and the resulting E. coli O157:H7 reductions of 3.5 to 4.2 log did not meet the FDA requirement. Consumer evaluation of apple cider subjected to the cran-cider process was favorable with a mean (n = 197) score of 5.8 on a seven-point hedonic scale (where 6 equals "like moderately") and 89% of panelists giving the product a positive score of 5, 6, or 7. The cran-cider process provides a novel way to improve microbial safety of unpasteurized apple cider, but it does not meet FDA-mandated pathogen reductions for wholesalers. However, cider makers selling apple cider only at retail could use the process to improve the safety of their product, provided containers were labeled with the FDA-mandated consumer warning.

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