With the fall harvest season approaching, Health Canada is advising parents and caregivers that children should not be served unpasteurized apple juice or other unpasteurized products, such as unpasteurized cider, fruit juices and raw milk.
The elderly and people with weakened immune systems are also advised against consuming unpasteurized products.
Unpasteurized products have the potential to be contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, which can make vulnerable individuals such as children, especially those under the age of six, very ill, and even lead to death.
It must be noted that the vast majority of juice sold in Canada is safe as it has been pasteurized (treated with heat or ultraviolet light) to kill harmful bacteria. This includes most of the juice sold in refrigerated display cases, and all concentrated juice and juice from concentrate, as well as all shelf-stable product packaged in cans, bottles and juice boxes, which can be found unrefrigerated on grocery store shelves.
Unpasteurized juice products can be found at some farmer’s markets, orchards, and grocery stores. While the risk of becoming seriously ill by consuming unpasteurized juice products is generally low for healthy adults, the possible danger to vulnerable groups is much greater. This becomes even more of a concern during the harvest season because schools often take students to orchards as part of class field trips.
Symptoms of a food-borne illness such as E. coli 0157:H7 infection can include stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and bloody diarrhea and can occur within two to 10 days of consuming contaminated food. People who experience any of these symptoms should contact their doctors immediately.