December 15, 2018
Is Unpasteurized Apple Juice Safe?
Ask the Experts

Is Unpasteurized Apple Juice Safe?

by Berkeley Wellness  

Q: Is unpasteurized apple juice or apple cider safe to drink? And what's the difference between juice and cider, anyway?

A: Unless apple cider is “hard” (that is, fermented and alcoholic), there’s no official difference between cider and apple juice. Juice is usually filtered and hence clear, while cider may contain apple solids and may be darker. But the labels are interchangeable in practice.

Almost all commercial juices and ciders today are pasteurized (or otherwise treated to kill bacteria), but some “natural” bottled juices sold in health-food stores, markets, and farmstands are not.Contaminated unpasteurized juice or cider occasionally causes outbreaks of illness, notably from E. coli. Unpasteurized organic products are just as susceptible to contamination as unpasteurized non-organic products.

Unpasteurized juices are supposed to bear a warning label, but ask if you aren’t sure about a product. Some people find that pasteurization changes the flavor, but it has little effect on nutrients. Apple juice and cider are not rich in vitamins or minerals, anyway, though they are good sources of healthful compounds called polyphenols, especially if cloudy when fresh.

Buy only pasteurized apple and other fruit juices or cider, especially if you’re serving them to young children, the elderly, or those with a weakened immune system. If you do choose to buy unpasteurized juice from a health-food store, farmstand, or other vendor, be sure to keep it refrigerated, which can prevent any bacteria in the product from multiplying.

See also: Test Your Food Safety Smarts.