There are many traditions associated with autumn, including visits to pumpkin patches, apple orchards and fall farmers markets. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans to check the labels of apple cider containers to ensure the product is pasteurized. Unpasteurized cider can contain cryptosporidiosis (‘crypto’), salmonella or E. coli. All of these bacteria can be dangerous to the very young and those who are immune-compromised.
“You can’t tell if cider is contaminated just by looking at it,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “In fact, there is no difference in smell or taste either. The key to preventing illness associated with apple cider is purchasing product that has been pasteurized, or by heating unpasteurized apple cider to at least 170°F.”
Unpasteurized products may be purchased as freshly pressed from local orchards, roadside stands, or farmers markets. They may also be found on ice or in refrigerated display cases, and in produce sections at grocery stores. Do not assume that because the juice is hot or bottled that it is safe for consumption. Complete pasteurization is necessary to kill organisms that have the potential to cause significant illness. If product labeling is unclear, ask the location owners or operators whether the juice or cider being offered has been pasteurized.
Symptoms of foodborne illness caused by contaminated food include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, fatigue, and fever. Symptoms may start within hours of eating the contaminated food or drink, or may begin days later. If you suspect you may have a foodborne illness, call the IowaSic hotline at 1-844-469-2742. The IowaSic hotline will be answered by IDPH specialists who will ask callers about the illness, symptoms, onset and duration, and also complete a history of all foods consumed for the past several days. Illnesses associated with foods purchased from or consumed at food establishments will be investigated by staff in DIA’s Food and Consumer Safety Bureau.
For more information about foodborne illnesses, visit idph.iowa.gov/cade/foodborne-illness.