- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Orange juice, contrary to what many had long believed,
is not too acidic to carry food poisoning, researchers reported Wednesday.
- They said careful checks showed that
62 people were sickened by a Salmonella outbreak at Disney World in Orlando
in 1995, and unpasteurized orange juice was to blame. Kim Cook and colleagues
at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Foodborne and
Diarrheal Diseases branch investigated the outbreak.
- They found 62 cases in 21 states dating
back to June of 1995. ``All had visited a large tourist theme park in Orlando
during May 1995,'' they wrote in a report in the Journal of the American
Medical Association. After the victims and family members were questioned,
it became clear that nearly all had drunk orange juice, too. Many had stayed
in the same hotel.
- ``We traced the implicated product, orange
juice, back through its production process and conducted site inspections
off the involved processing facilities and farms,'' Cook's team wrote.
They tested samples from the suspect batch and found Salmonella, a bacteria
that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. ``A site inspection of the juice
company identified several deficiencies in its processing plant,'' the
researchers wrote. The walls were cracked, mice and bird droppings could
be seen and even frogs got inside somehow.
- Salmonella was found on a toad found
just outside the building where the juice was processed. Reptiles and amphibians
are known to carry Salmonella.
- Only a small percentage of food poisoning
cases are ever reported, so the researchers think there must have been
many more. ``Orange juice and other acidic fruit juices are generally believed
to be unusual vehicles of transmission for human pathogens,'' they wrote.
But an outbreak of a strain of E. coli bacteria that can cause a sometimes
deadly form of food poisoning was traced to unpasteurized apple juice in
- ``Although the vast majority of orange
juice and other fruit and vegetable juices produced within the United States
are pasteurized and safe to consume, this outbreak illustrates the importance
of the current national debate and regulatory activity regarding the safety
of unpasteurized juices,'' the CDC team wrote. The Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) recently tightened rules on the labeling of fruit juice. Roadside
stands selling home-grown apple juice and cider must warn consumers the
product may contain illness-causing bacteria.
- The National Food Processors Association
wants the FDA to require that all juices be pasteurized -- a brief heating
process that kills microbes.