- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Food and Drug Administration will unveil new
regulations this week to safeguard consumers against fruit juice contamination,
an administration source said Monday. For the estimated 98 percent of U.S.
fruit juices that are already pasteurized for safety, the proposed rules
would require manufacturers to monitor production processes more closely.
- The tiny volume of fruit juices that
are not pasteurized -- typically made by smaller companies or roadside
orchards -- will have to carry labels that specifically warn of the possible
risk to the elderly, small children or consumers with compromised immune
systems, the source said.
- The agency hopes to get the labelling
regulations finalized in time for this autumn's apple juice-selling season,
he said. After a 1996 outbreak of illness and one death from Odwalla brand
apple juice, the FDA said it would issue proposed regulations to improve
the safety of juices. The Odwalla apple juice was contaminated with E.
coli 0157:H7, a virulent strain of the bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea
and kidney failure.
- The proposed regulations will be published
in the Federal Register this week for public comment.
- Food manufacturers said the new regulations
would have little impact on most makers of juice.
- ``The vast majority of the juices out
there -- including canned, concentrate and refrigerated kinds -- are already
pasteurized,'' said Tim Willard, a spokesman for the National Food Processors
Association. ``We believe that juices do need to be treated to make sure
they are safe.''
- The FDA has already adopted a similar
set of rules requiring seafood processors to identify key steps where food
can be infected with microbes and to monitor and document practices. The
practice, known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, has been
praised by consumer groups for requiring manufacturers to document procedures
to safeguard food.
- Foodborne illness sickens tens of millions
of Americans annually, and causes more than 9,000 deaths.