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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 4, 1998
                             July 4, 1998

In his weekly radio address, the President will announce the publication of a final rule to improve the safety of fruit and vegetable juices. The new regulation, which will take effect in time for this year's apple cider season, will help prevent illnesses from fresh, unpasteurized juices by requiring labels to alert those most vulnerable to food-borne illness, such as children and the elderly, of the risk associated with these products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that there are up to 40,000 cases of juice-related illness (including both treated and untreated juice) each year, and that this rule, especially when combined with another proposed food safety rule, will significantly reduce that number.

Providing Warning Labels for Consumers. The FDA rule will require any packaged untreated juice to be labeled with a warning statement advising consumers of the potential risks of juice that has not been processed to eliminate dangerous bacteria. This requirement will apply to all processors that package untreated juice for consumption off-site, including retail processors such as grocery stores that squeeze and bottle juice for home use. Retail sellers of juice for consumption on-site -- such as restaurants and juice bars -- will be exempt from this labeling requirement.

As a result of this new rule, consumers will see the following label on juice products that have not undergone pasteurization or a comparable treatment: "WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and, therefore, may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems."

Labeling Rule Works Together With HACCP Rule. The labeling rule will work in tandem with another proposed rule that will require that all fruit and vegetable juice processors implement a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system for their products to protect the public from health hazards. The proposed HACCP regulation will ensure that processors take the steps necessary to reduce the number of microorganisms in their products to an amount roughly equivalent to that achieved by pasteurization. Retailers of packaged juice, as well as processors who sell less than 40,000 gallons of fresh juice per year, will be exempt from this requirement. FDA is in the process of seeking comments on this proposal.

Safety of Juices. About 98 percent of all juice sold in the United States is pasteurized, and juice products generally are safe and nutritious. During the past few years, however, several serious outbreaks of foodborne illness have resulted from the consumption of juices that have not been pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy pathogens. As a result of the two rules described above, FDA estimates that up to 40 million additional gallons of juice will be pasteurized, and the incidence of illness significantly reduced.