Code of Practice for the Production and Distribution of Unpasteurized Apple and Other Fruit Juice/Cider in Canada

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Scope
  3. Definitions
  4. Primary production
  5. Intermediate Operations
  6. Processing Facilities and Operations
  7. Records
  8. Recalls
  9. Transportation of Bulk Juice / Cider
  10. Juice / Cider Storing and Retailing
  11. References

1. Introduction

1.1 Problem

A variety of pathogenic organisms such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7), Salmonella spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. have been known to cause human illness related to the consumption of juice/cider. E. coli O157:H7 is the most frequently isolated of these strains which are referred to as Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli.

1.2 Possible Causes of Contamination

The most likely cause of the contamination is fruit coming in contact with animal faeces, or water, workers, containers or processing equipment contaminated with animal faeces. Cattle, deer and sheep, are the most common reservoirs for the pathogen, but usually do not show symptoms themselves. Birds, rodents, insects and poor hygiene may also contribute to the contamination. Traditionally, unpasteurized juice or cider has been considered non hazardous because of its high acidity. However, recent data from research indicates that pathogenic organisms such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. can survive in acid foods including apple cider up to four weeks even though it is refrigerated. In addition, the number of bacteria required to cause illness is very low. One contaminated piece of fruit could affect an entire batch of juice or cider. The practice of washing fresh apples before pressing has recently been found ineffective at eliminating pathogen. Adding preservatives is also not considered a consistent and reliable means of killing pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7.

1.3 Reducing the Risk

Adults and children having contact with potential animal carriers should be made aware of the extremely low infective dose of E. coli O157:H7 and the potential for its transmission from such contact to maturing fruit

Despite the best efforts, organisms like E. coli may survive and be found in the final product. Microbial monitoring is not considered an effective means of detecting contaminated products since the levels are likely to be low. Therefore, until more is known about how unpasteurized juices and ciders become contaminated, manufacturers should take steps to reduce the risk of contamination by following the Code of Practice. Steps to reduce the risk should include the close inspection of tree-picked fruit, decontamination processing procedures and labelling the product "Unpasteurized". The young, the elderly and those in poor health are considered to be at higher risk.

The development of a HACCP (see definitions) plan for juice/cider processing operations is an excellent way to control the process and minimize safety hazards.

2 Scope

The objective of this Code of Practice is to define "Good Agricultural and Manufacturing Practices" to promote the production and sale in Canada of unpasteurized fruit juice/cider that is safe and of the highest quality. It sets out recommendations for growing, harvesting, transporting, storing, processing, packaging and distributing. Its aim is preventing the contamination of juice/cider by pathogenic microorganisms such as E. coli O157:H7.

The Code was developed to address the production and distribution of safe unpasteurized juices/ciders but was not intended to instruct consumers on how to handle the product.

The Code of Practice is concerned with matters which may affect the levels of occurrence and/or introduction of pathogens during production and distribution of unpasteurized fruit juice/cider.

None of the recommendations and guidelines of the Code of Practice can guarantee pathogen free juice/cider. However, their implementation will serve to reduce the possibility that the juice/cider will be contaminated.

The Code of Practice is based on existing knowledge of factors which influence contamination of unpasteurized fruit juice/cider.

This Code of Practice was initiated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada (HC) and developed in partnership with the provinces, the industry and the Consumers Association of Canada. The Code of Practice has drawn on experience from industry (Canadian and international) and will be revised as new information from research institutions, industry, and government experts becomes available.

3 Definitions

For purposes of this Code, the terms and expressions below are defined as:

  • Acceptable microbiological quality water: is water which meets at least the microbiological requirements of the "Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality" published by HC and any applicable provincial requirements.
  • Drop fruit: is fruit collected from the ground in any manner, in the orchard or anywhere else (also referred to as grounders or windfalls).
  • Durable life: is the period, commencing on the day on which a prepackaged product is packaged for retail sale, during which the product, when it is stored under conditions appropriate to that product, will retain, without any appreciable deterioration, its normal wholesomeness, palatability, nutritional value and any other qualities claimed for it by the manufacturer [Food and Drugs Regulations (F&D Regulations), B.01.001).
  • Durable life date (best before date): is the date on which the durable life of a prepackaged product ends (F&D Regulations, B.01.001).
  • Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP): is a worldwide recognized, science based, systematic and preventative approach to food safety that addresses biological, chemical and physical hazards by anticipating and preventing, rather than by inspecting finished product.
  • Pathogen: is a disease-causing organism.
  • Patulin: is a toxic chemical substance that is produced as a metabolite of moulds which occur naturally in the environment. These moulds can grow on fruits such as apples, peaches and pears but they are most often associated with brown rot on apples.
  • pH: is a measure of acidity/alkalinity.
  • Potable water: is water safe for drinking, free of foodborne pathogens. It meets the requirements of the "Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality" published by HC and any applicable provincial requirements.
  • Refrigeration: means exposure to a temperature of 4ºC or less, but does not mean frozen (F&D Regulations, B.27.001).
  • Sanitizing: is applying heat or chemical treatments to destroy or substantially reduce the numbers of vegetative cells of microorganisms of public health concern.
  • Unpasteurized Cider: is the unfermented, unclarified, untreated liquid obtained from the pressing of properly prepared, sound, clean, mature fruit. It includes sweet and soft cider, as well as frozen cider. Hard cider (fermented) and cider which has been concentrated by a heat treatment are different products and are not covered by this Code of Practice.
  • Unpasteurized Juice: is the unfermented liquid (usually clarified) obtained from the pressing of properly prepared, sound, clean, mature fruit. It includes frozen juice. Juice which has been concentrated by a heat treatment is a different product and is not covered by this Code of Practice.

4 Primary Production

4.1 Orchard Management

Foodborne pathogens can be introduced into orchards via animal waste (domestic and/or wild). As much as possible, a means of excluding domestic and wild animals should be used (i.e. fencing). Where bird roosting is a problem, a means should be used to scare and prevent birds from roosting and soiling the fruit.

To reduce the risk, neither animal manure nor human waste should be used. Research on pathogen survival in manure treatments and on assessing the risk of cross-contamination of food crops from manure under varying conditions is largely just beginning. Composting and other treatments may reduce but may not eliminate pathogens in manure.

Water used to dilute pesticides and irrigate orchards should be of an acceptable microbiological quality. This water can be a source of microbiological contamination, therefore growers should be aware of conditions that make the water source more susceptible to microbiological contaminants and follow control practices to ensure that water quality is sufficient for its intended use.

The grower should maintain records of pesticide and fertilizer applications (chemical and date).

4.2 Harvesting Practices

Sound ripe fruit should be picked and placed into clean bins suitable for transportation directly to a storage facility, sorting station or juice/cider plant, as appropriate.

Adequate training and supervision should be provided to ensure fruit is undamaged. Pickers must be free from communicable diseases (diseases which can be passed onto humans) and trained to practise personal hygiene and sanitation, and must also be provided with adequate washroom facilities including a means to wash and dry hands. Employees having boils, open cuts or wounds must not handle food or food contact surfaces unless the injury is completely protected by a secure waterproof covering (e.g., rubber gloves).

DROP FRUIT SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR UNPASTEURIZED JUICE/CIDER. Diseased, rotten fruit, fruit with damaged skin (with flesh exposed) and fruit with dirt or animal/bird excrement should be rejected.

Rotten fruit should be removed before storage since some moulds produce patulin (toxic metabolite); wholesome fruit for pressing should be kept in clean, dry bins.

Runners on full fruit bins should be inspected and cleaned before stacking.

Fruit bins should be labelled or coded to show orchard location, picking date and picking crew. Records should be kept.

5 Intermediate Operations

5.1 Transportation Practices

All potential sources of fecal contamination of bins and fruit must be minimized during handling and transport. Workers handling fruit should practise good hygiene and vehicles used for transportation should be clean. Care should also be taken to avoid physical damage to the fruit.

5.2 Fruit Storage Practices

Ideally, fruit should be pressed as soon as possible after picking to avoid increases of pH that would favor growth of pathogens during storage. The lower the pH, the worse the conditions will be for the growth and survival of pathogens. However, if fruit needs to be stored, rapid cooling to as close to 0ºC as possible (0 to 4ºC) and achievement of adequate storage conditions will maintain fruit condition.

Storage facilities must be clean, secure from rodents and insects and suitable for storing food. Each storage facility should be fitted with a temperature measuring or a temperature recording device. Records of storage temperature should be kept.

Fruit should be handled as gently as possible; every effort should be made to minimize physical damage at all stages of post-harvest handling prior to pressing.

After removal from cold storage, fruit should be pressed as soon as possible.

5.3 Fruit Sorting

Fruit should be inspected in a clean, dry, well-lit environment by workers who have been trained in inspection and personal hygiene. Only sound whole fruit should be used. Decayed, wormy, damaged (with flesh exposed), soiled (excrement) fruit should be culled to prevent contamination of juice/cider.

Fruit sorting should be carried out dry to prevent such culls, as above, from spreading contamination.

All lubricants and surfaces coming into contact with foods should be made of food grade materials.

5.4 Fruit Cleaning

All fruit should be subjected to effective washing, brushing and rinsing. Included in the washing may be a food grade sanitizer found in the "Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemicals" published by the CFIA. Sanitizers should be rinsed from the fruit unless otherwise instructed by the manufacturer's directions. Sanitizer levels should be monitored at appropriate intervals and recorded.

Water supplies for fruit cleaning must be potable according to the "Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality" published by HC and any applicable provincial requirements. Municipal water supplies should be checked for microbiological quality twice per year. Well water should be checked for microbiological quality at the start of the season and at least once per month during the processing season by a qualified laboratory. Records of potable water quality checks should be kept.

Flume, wash and rinse water should not be recycled. Wash water should be at least 5ºC warmer than the fruit to be pressed otherwise, microbial contaminants present in the wash water could be drawn into the flesh or core of the fruit.

6 Processing Facilities and Operations

6.1 Premises

The juice/cider processing facility must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before seasonal start-up. The sanitation must be maintained during the processing season according to a written sanitation program. Records should be kept.

Animals (domestic and pests) must be excluded from the processing facility and surrounding area. The processing facility must be adequately screened to eliminate insect and rodent entry. A written pest control program should be followed and the results recorded.

Floors should be smooth, non porous, impervious to water and properly drained. Walls, doors and ceilings should be smooth, non-porous, non-chipping and impervious to water. Doors should be close fitting, and self closing where appropriate.

Lighting in the pressing and filling areas should be adequate. Light bulbs and fixtures should be protected to prevent contamination of the juice/cider in case of breakage.

The sewage system and garbage storage/removal must meet all of the requirements of the local regulatory authorities having jurisdiction.

6.2 Equipment

Equipment should be made of stainless steel as it is easier to clean, sanitize and maintain than equipment made from other materials. All lubricants and surfaces coming into contact with foods should be made of food grade materials. Galvanized buckets, pipes or sheeting should not be used. Equipment that comes into contact with fruit juice/cider should not be made of a material that could lead to undesirable or unacceptable migration or leaching of chemicals into juice/cider, for example, brass equipment should not be used since the acidity of the juice/cider could leach the copper out of the brass.

All equipment and utensils used in the processing and filling of juice/cider should be cleaned, rinsed and sanitized at least daily (post operation) according to a written sanitation program. Sanitizers should be rinsed from the equipment and utensils unless otherwise instructed by the manufacturer's directions. Equipment should be visually inspected to determine adequacy of cleaning and a record should be kept.

Sanitizers should be used according to manufacturer's directions. For best results, sometimes two different sanitizers may be alternated. The "Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemicals" published by the CFIA contains the list of acceptable sanitizers.

Sanitizers, cleaning compounds and pesticides should be identified and stored in a manner that protects against the contamination of food. Cleaning compounds must be stored separately from pesticides or other non-processing chemicals.

6.3 Water Supply

Water used in processing establishments must be potable (see section 5.4) unless it is used solely for fire protection, or auxiliary services and there must be no connection between the system for that water and the system for potable water. Potable water, hot and cold under pressure, should be provided.

6.4 Personnel

All workers must be free from communicable diseases. They should be trained not only for their task, but also to keep the premises clean and to practise personal hygiene. Written requirements for personal hygiene should be available.

Workers must have ready access to clean washrooms and proper hand washing (hot water and soap) facilities with disposable towels and closed trash containers. All persons must wash their hands upon entering food handling areas, before starting work, after handling contaminated materials, after breaks, and after using toilet facilities. Where necessary to minimize microbiological contamination, employees should use disinfectant hand dips. Washroom facilities must be provided with proper signage to remind workers to wash hands. Washrooms must be segregated from production and storage areas.

Employees having open cuts or wounds must not handle food or food contact surfaces unless the injury is completely protected by a secure waterproof covering (e.g., rubber gloves). All persons entering food handling areas should remove jewellery and other objects which may fall into or otherwise contaminate food.

Protective clothing, hair covering, footwear and/or gloves, appropriate to the operation in which the employee is engaged should be worn and maintained in a sanitary manner.

Any behaviour which could result in contamination of food, such as eating, use of tobacco, chewing gum, or unhygienic practices such as spitting are prohibited in food handling areas.

6.5 Fruit Inspection

On arrival at the processing facility, fruit should be inspected for quality.

The processor should specify the maximum proportion of supplied fruit which can have any sign of spoilage, taking into account the capability of the processor to remove rotting fruit during pre-processing inspection. If this proportion is exceeded, the whole consignment should be rejected.

Fruit being received should be accompanied by information on the orchard location, picking date and picking crew. Records should be kept to relate this information to the juice/cider container code.

Processing apples, in cold storage, should be kept as close to 0ºC as possible (0 to 4ºC). Processing apples in controlled atmosphere (CA) storage should be kept at the recommended atmosphere and temperature for the variety.

6.6 Fruit Processing

The pressing, filling and sealing area should be enclosed, clean, well-lit, dry, well ventilated, and screened to keep out pests. This area should be separate from the area where the fruit is sorted and washed to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Filter cloths should be specifically designed for this purpose, made of durable materials and replaced frequently. Filter cloths and press racks should be washed, rinsed, sanitized and dried after each day's operation in a screened well ventilated area. They should be kept off the floor in a clean place when not in use. The "Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemicals" published by the CFIA contains the list of acceptable sanitizers.

All tubing carrying juice/cider should be transparent and approved for food use. It should be as continuous as possible with couplings kept to a minimum, especially in spaces that are not readily accessible. It should be kept away from the floor and any drains. Tubing should be cleaned, rinsed and sanitized at least after each day's run. Periodic disassembling, cleaning, and sanitizing of tubing, clamps, couplings, and connections should be performed. Sanitizers should be rinsed from the tubing unless otherwise instructed by the manufacturer's directions. Flexible tubing should be stored in a self-draining position.

Pomace residue should be disposed of after each day's run.

Custom processors should clean and sanitize presses between batches.

Sodium benzoate may be effective against low microbial loads at low pH. If used, it should be added immediately after pressing, according to the manufacturer's directions, and in accordance with the F&D Regulations.

The use of microbiological testing production procedures on production batches is recommended to identify sanitation failures or product contamination. While end product testing may not be a complete assurance that the juice is free of pathogens, indicator organisms such as coliforms or generic E. coli may help determine if adequate and consistent sanitation is being practiced.

6.7 Packaging

The juice/cider should be dispensed into containers which are new, non-porous, non-corrosive, made of food grade materials and should be cleaned and inverted prior to use. New caps must be used. Glass containers may be reused if they have been properly cleaned, sanitized and rinsed prior to reuse. Reusable raw product bulk containers should be cleaned, sanitized and rinsed prior to reusing.

All unpasteurized juice/cider should immediately be refrigerated (between 0 to 4ºC) or frozen (less than -18ºC) and should be held at those temperatures until ready to consume.

Refrigeration and freezing units should be properly maintained on a regular basis and equipped with thermometers that are easy to read.

6.8 Labelling

All juice/cider and their labels MUST meet the requirements of the F&D Act and Regulations and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations (CPLA and CPLR).

The common name must be correctly identified on the label (F&D Regulations, B.01.001, B01.006) (CPLA, Section 10). UNPASTEURIZED JUICES/CIDERS SHOULD BE LABELLED AS "UNPASTEURIZED".

The net quantity must be declared on the label (CPLA, Section 4, CPLR, Sections 14.)

The name and address of the packer must be identified on the label (CPLA, Section 10).

Where the prepackaged juice/cider consists of more than just the raw juice /cider, a list of ingredients must be declared (F&D Regulations, B.01.008). A preservative is considered an ingredient (additive). It must meet the provisions of Division 16 of the F&D Regulations and must be declared.

A "durable life date" (best before date) must be placed on the container (F&D Regulations, B.01.007). "Keep refrigerated" or "keep frozen" as appropriate should be placed on the container.

A code lot identification number should be applied to all juice/cider containers by packers to indicate the source of fruit, the packing establishment and the packing date, to facilitate recalls when necessary. A code lot should not exceed one day's production (from one day's cleanup to next day's clean-up). The packer is responsible for having a record of the interpretation of the code, volume produced and distribution of the product.

7 Records

Records should be available and be supplied on demand as evidence to establish food safety. These records should be legible, permanent, accurate and be signed and dated by the individual(s) responsible. They should include procedures, controls, limits, and subsequent follow-up documents. They should be retained for at least one year after the expiration of the durable life date (best before date) or, for frozen juice/cider, at least two years after the food has been released to the consumer. Necessary records should include fruit sources, water analysis checks, food additives, consumer complaints, sanitation checks, pest control monitoring, lot codes, production volumes, storage temperature monitoring, grower/supplier agreements, training programs and product distribution.

8 Recalls

Every packer and processor must maintain an effective system of control so that they are able to notify all their affected customers to quickly recall any product posing a health risk. The CFIA (and the appropriate provincial or municipal health authority, if required) should be notified of all health recalls.

9 Transportation of Bulk Juice / Cider

Bulk unpasteurized juice/cider should be transported at refrigeration temperatures (0 to 4ºC) to the packer.

The buyer should only accept product which complies with predetermined specifications regarding composition. Before filling, the inside of the tank should be cleaned, sanitized, rinsed (unless otherwise instructed by manufacturer's directions) and inspected.

Tank integrity should be maintained and monitored regularly. Cracks, dents and dead spots are impediments to good cleaning.

10 Juice / Cider Storing and Retailing

Containers of unpasteurized juice/cider should be stored or displayed in a clean, dry place, appropriate for food, at the appropriate refrigeration or freezing temperatures (as above).

Any badly dented, cracked or leaking containers should be immediately disposed of.

The "durable life date"(best before date) on juice/cider containers must be respected.

All juice/cider should be marketed in a prompt first-in first-out manner.

11 References

  1. Draft Revised Recommended International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene - ALINORM 97/13A, Appendix II.
  2. Course materials provided at the Apple Cider Processing and Safety Workshop, March 7,1997; sponsored by Food Science and Technology, Cornell University and the New York Apple Association.
  3. Cornell University, Food Safety Update Bulletin, November, 1996.
  4. Cornell University, Recommended Good Manufacturing Practices Fresh Apple Juices (draft), June 6, 1998.
  5. Joe O'Leary, Food Safety Quality Task Force, University of Kentucky, Ensuring the Safety of Cider.
  6. Pennsylvania State University; Making, Handling and Marketing High Quality Apple Cider.
  7. Massachusetts Department of Health, Division of Food and Drug; Suggestions for Proper Sanitation in Massachusetts Cider Mills, 1993.
  8. Gerald Wojtala, Food Division, Michigan Department of Agriculture, Michigan's Response to E. coli O157:H7 in Apple Cider.
  9. Dhum B. Patel, Division of Commodity Regulation, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Recommendations for Good Manufacturing Practices and Plant Sanitation in Apple Cider Press Operations.
  10. Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), Requirements and Recommendations for Apple Cider Processing Operations, (May 26, 1999).
  11. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (Draft), April 13, 1998.
  12. Health Canada, Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality
  13. Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemicals
  14. Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) Manual
  15. Health Protection Branch, Health Canada, Proposed Division 29, Good Manufacturing Practices Regulations for Foods with Interpretative Guidelines (Draft), May 29 1996.
  16. Food and Drugs Act and Regulations (F&D Regulations).
  17. Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations (CPLA and CPLR).
  18. Pascal J. Delaquis, Shannon M. Ward and Kareen Stanich, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Evaluation of Pre-Pressing Sanitary Treatments for the Destruction of Escherichia Coli 0157:H7 on Apples Destined for Production of Unpasteurized Apple Juice, November 1999