Apple cider safety this fall

It seems every time of the year has its own special drinks. Summer has cool, refreshing lemonade. Winter has hot chocolate, eggnog and anything that will chase away the cold. Autumn has its pumpkin spice lattes, sure, but before pumpkin spice, there was apple cider.

Did you know you can make apple cider at home? Michigan State University offers these tips:

  • Use only fresh apples, preferably fewer than 24 hours after harvest. Older apples lose their acidity, making it easier for bacteria to grow. Watch out for signs of decay or mold.
  • Only grab apples from a tree. Being on the ground exposes apples to bacteria left behind by animals like cattle, deer and birds. Wash apples — and your hands — thoroughly.
  • Pasteurize your cider before drinking in order to kill dangerous bacteria. You should boil the cider at a temperature of at least 160°F. After this, refrigerate the cider, and it should be good for up to a week.

Apple cider produced by larger operations has been linked to a few outbreaks of foodborne pathogen illness in recent years. Apple processers and packers should maintain an environmental monitoring plan to keep cider safe, taking steps such as:

  • Breaking up the production run into lots
  • Implementing a rigorous sanitation verification program, using adenosine triphosphate (ATP) testing
  • Testing for pathogens like E. coli on a regular basis
  • Documenting information on production runs, sanitation testing schedules and all actions taken to guard against outbreaks

Neogen offers environmental monitoring solutions for producers both large and small in the apple industry. Click here for more information.

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