Natural Healing with Juice

Juicing without fear: a guide to pasteurization

| September/October 2000

Make Your Own Calendula Ointment Recipe

The distinctive taste of fresh-squeezed orange juice: each sip is tart yet refreshingly sweet, with the notorious pulp that sticks to your teeth. Because most people don’t have the time to squeeze oranges, many juice companies now provide fresh-squeezed juice in bottles on your grocer’s refrigerator shelves.

What consumers may not realize, however, is that some of these juices carry a warning label, which has been required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1998 for all unpasteurized juice. In the time between squeezing the fruit and filling the bottles, harmful bacteria can become present in the juice. Pasteurization, or heat treating the juice, is necessary to kill off bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. Yet some juices, such as orange or carrot juice found in grocery stores’ produce sections, and many ciders sold at farmers’ markets, are not pasteurized, making up about 2 percent of all juice sold, according to the FDA. Some juice manufacturers believe that pasteurizing juice alters the nutritional value of the product, killing live enzymes that aid in digestion.

“Heating always results in some loss of nutrients, and some people want their juice as fresh as possible,” says Diane Barrett, a fruit and vegetable products specialist with the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California at Davis. “They may not realize there is a health risk in drinking it.”

About 2 percent of all juices sold are not pasteurized. 

Unpasteurized juice accounted for 76 percent of contamination cases reported between 1993 and 1996, according to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Last year, the FDA reported that unpasteurized orange juice caused 402 cases of illness and one death due to salmonella in twenty states and three Canadian provinces.

For customers who want the safety of pasteurization but still want to maintain as much of the nutritional integrity of fresh-squeezed juice as possible, many companies have adopted minimal pasteurization methods, known as “lightly,” “ultra flash,” or “flash” pasteurization. The juice is heated quickly to a high temperature to kill bacteria, then cooled immediately.

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