Raw fruits and vegetables that are squeezed for juice and stored for future service are subject to specific food safety requirements. That is because like other ready to eat foods, there is no cooking step to help with the destruction of potentially hazardous pathogens. When fresh produce is harvested and transported from fields and farms, there exists the possibility that pathogens may not be fully removed during subsequent cleaning steps. Even a very small number of pathogens can multiply to unsafe levels under extended storage.
The use of contaminated produce in the preparation of raw juices has been linked as a common factor in foodborne illness outbreaks. Acid juices have most commonly been implicated. Potentially hazardous pathogens for acidic juices (pH 4.6 or less) include enteric bacterial pathogens, such as E. coli O157:H7, various Salmonella species, and the protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum. These microorganisms inhabit the intestinal tracts of animals and are excreted through manure or feces. When animals are located in an area near crops, produce can become contaminated through direct contact with feces or indirectly through contaminated irrigation water or runoff. Other possible contaminates of acidic juices are organisms that are pervasive in nature, such as Listeria monocytogenes.
Low acid juices have the potential to become unsafe, too. They are capable of harboring harmful microorganisms, so when prepared for raw service, consideration should be given to toxins produced by non-proteolytic and proteolytic strains of Clostridium botulinum as potential hazards to be controlled.
In retail establishments raw juice prepared for future service is regulated by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC). Retail business refers to establishments that prepare food for direct, on premise sales and service.
Juice is defined as the aqueous liquid expressed or extracted from one or more fruits or vegetables, purees of the edible portions of one or more fruits or vegetables, or any concentrate of such liquid or puree. This publication strictly pertains to juices that are prepared on site for immediate service and/or stored for future service.
Retail establishments that offer raw juices are required to apply to SC DHEC for a variance and may be required to develop and implement a juice hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) safety plan.
Establishments that are processing (canning or bottling) raw juices with the intent of creating a shelf stable product and have met FDA requirements for registration and Better Process Control School may not be required to implement a HACCP plan. However, it is strongly encouraged.
HACCP is a food safety system that helps to achieve active control of foodborne illness risk factors. Implementing a HACCP plan for raw juices adds a layer of food safety security by focusing on prevention not reaction.
These plans require that establishments strictly follow seven principals. The seven principals are common to all HACCP plans, however each establishment will have a unique plan that reflects their products and preparation methods.
Additional food safety practices that are critical to safely preparing and storing raw juices includes a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that emphasizes:
*Commercial processers for raw juices are required by FDA to obtain a 5-log reduction of the most resistant organism of public health significance for their individual juice product. Pasteurization is one of the most efficient and reliable ways to obtain that 5-log reduction. High-temperature short-time (HTST) pasteurization is a method of heat pasteurization for perishable beverages including fruit and vegetable juices, which compared with other pasteurization processes maintains color and flavor better.
For an apple juice at pH values of 4.0 or less, the FDA recommends the following thermal processing procedures be followed to achieve the desired 5-log reduction for oocyst of Cryptosproidium parvum, as well as the other three previously mentioned vegetative bacterial pathogens, based upon a conservative evaluation of the available scientific data:
There are special requirements for establishments that serve high-risk populations. These include:
Prepared by Adair Hoover, Food Safety Extension Agent, Clemson University. (New 01/17.)