Prevalence of Escherichia coli in Apple Cider Manufactured in Connecticut

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Cider samples obtained from 11 cider mills operating in Connecticut during the 1997 to 1998 production season were tested for the presence of Escherichia coli. Cider production began in mid August and continued through March, with peak production in September and October. Of 314 cider samples tested, 11 (4%) were found to contain E. coli. Of the 11 mills, 6 (55%) tested positive for E. coli in the cider at least once during the production year. E. coli was first observed in cider samples produced in mid to late October and was not detected in samples made after January. A trend was observed for cider to decrease in acidity and increase in oBrix (soluble sugars) throughout the production season. No correlation between pH and soluble sugars of cider and the presence of E. coli was detected. Eight mills used both dropped apples and tree-picked apples, whereas three mills used tree-picked apples only. The use of dropped apples in cider production began 5 weeks before the first detection of E. coli in cider. E. coli was isolated from cider samples produced using dropped apples and from samples produced using only tree-picked apples. No direct correlation between the use of dropped apples or tree-picked apples and the presence of E. coli in the cider was observed. An association between the time of apple harvest and the appearance of E. coli in cider was noted. For mills providing adequate records, all contaminated cider was produced from apples harvested between mid October and mid November.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, 123 Huntington Street, P. O. Box 1106, New Haven, Connecticut 06504, USA

Publication date: June 1, 1999

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