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Potential Sources of Microbial Contamination in Unpasteurized Apple Cider

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A study was conducted to identify possible sources of microbial contamination and to assess the effect of good cleaning and sanitation practices on the microbial quality and safety of unpasteurized apple cider. Raw unwashed apples, washed apples, cleaning water, fresh cider, and finished cider samples were collected from five Ontario producers over 4 months and microbiologically tested. Total coliforms were found in 31, 71 and 38% of the unwashed apple, water, and washed apple samples, respectively. Escherichia coli was found in 40% of the water samples from one producer alone. The washing step was identified as a potential source of contamination, possibly due to water in the dump tanks seldom being refreshed, and because scrubbers, spray nozzles, and conveyors were not properly cleaned and sanitized. Higher total coliform counts (P < 0.0001) and prevalence (P < 0.0001) in fresh cider compared with those in unwashed apples and washed apples indicated considerable microbial buildup along the process, possibly explained by the lack of appropriate equipment sanitation procedures. Results showed that producers who had better sanitary practices in place had lower (P < 0.001) total coliform prevalence than the rest of the producers. Overall results show that good sanitation procedures are associated with improved microbial quality of fresh cider in terms of total coliforms and that operators who pasteurize and/or UV treat their product should still be required to have a sound good manufacturing practices program in place to prevent recontamination. Cryptosporidium parvum, an important pathogen for this industry, was found in different sample types, including washed apples, water, and fresh and finished cider.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 1 Stone Road West, 5th Floor N.W., Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 4Y2

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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