Apple Juice

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Changed on: 12.01.2016
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Apple crate

The regional food analysis centres and the food safety institutes of the Austrian Agency for Food Safety (AGES) carry out official examinations based on the Austrian Food and Consumer Safety Act within Austria.

Kiste mit roten Äpfeln
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Apple crate

The regional food analysis centres and the food safety institutes of the Austrian Agency for Food Safety (AGES) carry out official examinations based on the Austrian Food and Consumer Safety Act within Austria.

Residues in Apple Juice Production

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Detailed view of unacceptable fittings

Zinc is a vital trace element for our bodies. However, the ingestion of increased amounts of dissolved zinc results in poisoning symptoms immediately after intake. Zinc is used as metal coating in technology, dissolving easily when in contact with acidic foods (e.g. apple juice).

Nickel is a trace element that is an essential part of all stainless steels, but can get into food through mechanical abrasion or chemical effects caused by acidic foods. Thus, only material expressly suited and authorised for foods should be used in their processing and storage.

Mycotoxins -- secondary metabolic products of moulds -- are of special interest as food contaminates. Patulin is an issue, particularly in the production of juices from pomaceous fruit. Patulin is classified as genotoxic, teratogenic and extremely damaging to the liver. The substance is relatively temperature-resistant, especially at acidic pH levels. Patulin mostly occurs in mould-infested fruit. The mould is often caused by insects in otherwise healthy fruit tissue on the inside of the fruit and leads to the occurrence of patulin inside fruit with no visible damage to the outside.

"Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006 of 19th December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs" has defined the maximum levels of patulin in fruit juice in the European Union since November 2003. Very low levels have been specified for children’s foods.

The European Commission compiled its "Commission Recommendation of 11th August, 2003 on the prevention and reduction of patulin contamination of apple juice and apple ingredients in other beverages (2003/598/EC)" for businesses in the apple processing industry.

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Statistical evaluation of patulin evidence

All of the 99 official samples (sampling 2006) taken from farms and tested for patulin complied with the regulation on contaminates (maximum level 50 µg/kg). Twenty-two samples showed a patulin content between 2 and 37 µg/l, 7 % of the products of which were not considered fit for consumption by babies and toddlers (maximum level 10 µg/kg).

Health risks could be caused through pathogens, foreign substances or foreign bodies, such as fragments.  The "Guidelines for fruit processing on farms", published by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) contains detailed information on this issue. The premises of the business must be kept clean, with all machinery and fittings intact. The appropriate procedures for fighting pests and keeping away livestock must be followed. Strangers may only enter the production facilities with the prior consent of the person responsible. The quality of the drinking water must be monitored if the water is taken from an on-site well or spring. Clean working clothes must be worn and personal hygiene maintained. Handling foods and entering areas where food is handled is prohibited to people, should there be a risk of direct or indirect contamination: this includes diseases transferred by foods, people with infected wounds, skin infections or damaged skin, people with diarrhoea.

Dirty, dusty bottles and caps can also be a cause of microbiological contamination. Temperature and the time the temperature is kept at a specific level are essential during the pasteurising process. Clear juice should be pasteurised at 78°C and cloudy juice at 82°C over a time period of five minutes. Making sure that the thermometer used shows the correct temperature (look out for calibration or gauging) is also essential. The filling temperature should be as close to the pasteurising temperature as possible.

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