Baugher’s Apple Cider E. coli Outbreak
Baugher’s apple cider was determined to be the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak among Maryland residents in early November of 2010. The unpasteurized cider was produced by Baugher’s Orchard & Farm of Westminster, MD, which recalled all its apple cider for potential E. coli contamination on November 5.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) warned local consumers to avoid unpasteurized Baugher’s apple cider on November 4 after determining that seven people, including three who had been hospitalized, had become infected with E. coli after consuming apple cider produced by Baugher’s.
Fruit and vegetable juices can become contaminated with E. coli before processing. E. coli outbreaks have been traced to fresh apple cider even when steps such as brushing and washing apples have been taken to reduce the opportunity for bacterial contamination.
The use of “down” apples, or apples that have fallen to the ground before being harvested, is a risk factor for E. coli contamination since animals – like deer – that shed E. coli can forage for food in orchard areas and fruit can fall in animal feces as it drops from trees. Juice that has been pasteurized or has received other treatment, such as UV irradiation, surface treatment, or high pressure treatment is safe to drink. Juice that has not received such treatment may be contaminated with E. coli or other pathogens.