Make sure your cider is safe

(Flickr)
(Flickr)

KIMT News 3 – Drinking apple cider is a popular fall tradition for many, and Iowa health officials want to make sure you’re enjoying it safely.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is reminding everyone to check the labels of their apple cider containers’ labels to ensure the drink is pasteurized. Unpasteurized cider can contain cryptosporidiosis, or “crypto,” salmonella or E. coli. These bacteria can be dangerous to the young and 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 can be found 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. But just because the juice is hot or bottled doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink. Complete pasteurization is necessary to kill organisms that have the potential to cause significant illness. If product labeling is unclear, your best bet is to ask the location owners or operators whether the juice or cider 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, you can call the IowaSic hotline at 1-844-469-2742. Specialists will ask callers about the illness, symptoms, onset and duration, and also complete a history of all foods eaten for the past several days.

Illnesses associated with foods from or eaten at food establishments will be investigated by staff in the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals’ Food and Consumer Safety Bureau.

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