All News / Outbreaks /

Cider warnings are out, and some farmers aren’t happy

On October 30 the Chicago Tribune reported on the FDA’s warning that just-pressed apple cider bought from that quaint roadside farm stand could contain the E. coli bacteria.
The agency is reminding people of the dangers associated with unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices — the kinds sold at farmers markets, stands and some juice bars — after an outbreak in upstate New York that appears to be linked to apple cider from a small orchard.
“It’s that time of year,” FDA spokesman Mike Herndon said. “In the holiday season, you’re probably going to drink cider.”

That type of statement has some area farmers grumbling.
“The good ol’ FDA,” said Alan Quig of Quig’s Orchard in Mundelein, which began pasteurizing its cider after a 1996 E. coli outbreak linked to untreated apple juice. “Every time that kind of thing happens, they put [a warning] out in the season when farmers are trying to make their money.”
New York is investigating what appears to be contaminated cider from an orchard in Peru, N.Y. Since late September, 221 people have reported gastrointestinal illnesses after drinking cider from the orchard, spokeswoman Claire Pospisil said.
Most juice sold in supermarkets is pasteurized, or heat-treated to destroy bacteria. Untreated juice is required to have a label saying so.
The FDA instituted the labeling rule after the 1996 E. coli outbreak in which a 15-month-old Colorado girl died after drinking tainted apple juice made by Odwalla.
The FDA requires juice processors to use a hazard analysis to flag potential contamination hazards in its plants. The agency does not regulate roadside stands and markets.
When in doubt, consumers should boil the juice, the FDA said. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should drink only pasteurized juices.
Farmer Bob Quig said his family invested more than than $20,000 in pasteurizing equipment after the 1996 E. coli outbreak because “it was something we had to do.”
But, he said, his cider sales still plummeted and have never fully recovered, and he blames the FDA for putting “such a panic in people.”
“Whether you make money on cider or not, people expect to have fresh apple cider,” he said. “It’s one more thing that cuts into your bottom line.”

Get Help

Affected by an outbreak or recall?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

Get a free consultation
Related Resources
E. coli Food Poisoning

What is E. coli and how does it cause food poisoning? Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a highly studied, common species of bacteria that belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae, so...

E. coli O157:H7

E. coli O157:H7 is a foodborne pathogen that causes food poisoning. E. coli O157:H7 is the most commonly identified and the most notorious Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serotype in...

Non-O157 STEC

Non-O157 Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli can also cause food poisoning. E. coli O157:H7 may be the most notorious serotype of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), but there are at least...

Sources of E. coli

Where do E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) come from? The primary reservoirs, or ultimate sources, of E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 STEC in nature are...

Transmission of and Infection with E. coli

While many dairy cattle-associated foodborne disease outbreaks are linked to raw milk and other raw dairy products (e.g., cheeses, butter, ice cream), dairy cattle still represent a source of contamination...

Outbreak Database

Looking for a comprehensive list of outbreaks?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

View Outbreak Database