The efficacy of cleaning and sanitation in a small apple cider processing plant was evaluated by surface swab methods as well as microbiological examination of incoming raw ingredients and of the final product. Surface swabs revealed that hard-to-clean areas such as apple mills or tubing for pomace and juice transfer may continue to harbor contaminants even after cleaning and sanitation. Use of poor quality ingredients and poor sanitation led to an increase of approximately 2 logs in aerobic plate counts of the final product. Reuse of uncleaned press cloths contributed to increased microbiological counts in the finished juice. Finally, using apples inoculated with Escherichia coli K-12 in the plant resulted in an established population within the plant that was not removed during normal cleaning and sanitation. The data presented in this study suggest that current sanitary practices within a typical small cider facility are insufficient to remove potential pathogens.

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Author notes

Present address: Sutter Health, 2200 River Plaza Drive, Sacramento, CA 95833, USA.

Present address: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Arkansas Regional Laboratory, 3900 NCTR Road, Building 26, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA.