Improving the safety of apple juice and cider

Date: 

2007 to 2011

Summary: 

Prior to the findings of this research, there were no research-based guidelines for juice manufacturers to target for percentage of rotted fruit for juice production or intervention methods to reduce patulin levels below regulatory limits. The findings suggest that the targeted culling rates for apples to be less than 0.1 percent of Penicillium expansum-infected fruit to ensure less than 50 ppb of patulin in the finished juice.
Apple varieties tested were common domestic apples used for juice and cider production. There appeared to be a propensity for specific varieties of apples that are more susceptible to P. expansum infection and subsequent patulin production. The most susceptible varieties were Golden Supreme and McIntosh of the six varieties tested. It was also found that storage temperature had an effect on patulin levels in apples, and it was found that lower refrigerated holding temperatures delayed the development of patulin levels in the apples.
Based on this research, a target culling rate for rotted fruit was determined to be 0.1 percent. Two intervention methods to reduce patulin levels in apple juice and concentrates were identified. Ultraviolet light that is used to enhance the biological safety of juice was also found to inactivate patulin in apple juice and cider. Yeast cells were also found to decrease patulin levels in juice and concentrate when added as a processing aide.
These findings can be used as guidelines and intervention methods for juice manufacturers, processors, and regulatory agencies to reduce the levels of patulin in finished apple juice, cider, and concentrate.

Issue: 

No research-based guidelines existed for apple growers and juice manufacturers to target as the minimum amount of rotted fruit to be allowed in juice production to reduce the levels of patulin to less than 50 ppb, the regulatory action level in the United States. Juice manufacturers now know that if one rotted apple with a mycotoxin-producing mold exists in a total of one bin, approximately 1,000 apples will exceed the allowed limit for patulin in the finished juice.
The culling rates set by this research will reduce the amount of affected juice that will result in an economic savings for apple growers and juice processors while improving the safety of apple juice for consumers.
In addition, once excessive patulin levels were identified in juice or concentrate, there was no means to reduce the patulin levels except by designating the juice for alcoholic cider and vinegar but at a significantly lower price.

Response: 

Typical apple varieties used in juice production were inoculated with patulin-producing mold and held to determine the incidence and production of patulin in the different apple varieties. The levels of patulin in the mold-infected apples was determined and used to develop the target culling rates for rotted apples prior to juice production.
Ultraviolet light treatment and yeast cell addition were identified as methods to reduce patulin levels. The methods are inexpensive and easily implemented for small and large juice manufacturers.

Impact: 

The culling rate limit and patulin reduction intervention methods set by this research will reduce the amount of affected juice, which will result in an economic savings for apple growers and juice processors while improving the safety of apple juice for consumers.

Submitted by: 

International focus: 

  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • Argentina
  • Turkey
  • Czech Republic
  • Chile
  • United States of America
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • France
  • Ukraine
  • Spain
  • Mexico

United States focus: 

  • New York