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FDA to make juices safer from E. coli

E. coli and juice August 26, 1997
Web posted at: 3:33 p.m. EDT (1933 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will announce new measures designed to make all fresh fruit and vegetable juices safer, CNN learned Tuesday.

Last fall, one child died and more than 60 people in the Western United States and Canada became sick after drinking unpasteurized Odwalla apple juice that was contaminated with the E. coli bacteria.

An FDA source said the agency would ask fresh apple juice producers whose products are not pasteurized to put warning labels on their products.

The labels would tell consumers, in time for this fall's apple cider season, that the product has not been pasteurized and may contain some microorganisms capable of producing diseases.

Pasteurizing juice kills bacteria, including E. coli.

E. coli can cause abdominal cramps followed by watery diarrhea that often becomes bloody. Most individuals recover within a short period of time. However, a small percentage of people develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.

The FDA says people particularly at risk from the potential dangers of unpasteurized fresh juice are children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

The source said the FDA would also ask apple juice producers to start developing the so-called HACCP Plans.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. The idea is to identify places in processing where things can go wrong and then put measures in place to try to prevent problems before they occur.

These are considered voluntary measures proposed by the FDA until the agency develops more formal regulations.

It doesn't appear that the FDA will actually require juice to be pasteurized, but the agency does want fresh juice makers to take other food safety precautions to help prevent juice-related illnesses.

Correspondent Eugenia Halsey contributed to this report.

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