FDA To Propose US
Fruit Juice Safeguards

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.

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