UPFRONT - Feature


No cider safety concerns

Despite the outbreak last summer of E. coli infection from unpasteurized apple cider, two of Humboldt County's three fresh cider producers do not plan to pasteurize their product. The owners of Clendenen's Cider Works in Fortuna and Arrington Apples in Freshwater say they're certain that their production methods and sanitary procedures are safe.

No one from South Fork Cider Works in southern Humboldt was available to comment, but owner John LaBoito traveled to Placerville recently with Clif Clendenen for a state seminar on safe cider making. Clendenen said the only change he's made after the seminar was to stop using windfall apples.

"I was reassured that our safety procedures are on target," said Clendenen, whose family has run the orchard and cider works for 88 years.

Janet Arrington said she's also stopped using "groundpicks." Some in cider circles suspect that windfall apples from an orchard where livestock were grazed was the source of the contamination of Odwalla juice last summer. E. coli in the Odwalla products killed a child and sickened more than 60 people. (No livestock graze in Arrington's or Clendenen's orchards, said the owners.)

Federal and state food authorities are considering whether to require pasteurization -- heat treatment that kills bacteria -- of cider. "If it comes to that point ... we'll be faced with the decision to pasteurize or find some other line of work," said Clendenen.

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