Topic:
AGRICULTURE (GENERAL); CONSUMER PROTECTION; CONSUMER PROTECTION DEPARTMENT; EXECUTIVE AGENCIES; FOOD LAW; RETAIL TRADE;
Location:
FOOD PRODUCTS;

OLR Research Report


October 1, 2008

 

2008-R-0522

MANUFACTURING APPLE CIDER

By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst

You asked for an explanation of the federal regulation requiring cider producers to establish Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems and how the state enforces food safety at cider producers. You also wanted to know (1) how many farms in Connecticut sell fresh cider, and of these how many sell unpasteurized cider, (2) how other northeastern states regulate the sale of unpasteurized cider, and (3) which agencies in these states are responsible for this regulation. We answer each question in turn.

CIDER REGULATION AND CIDER PRODUCERS IN CONNECTICUT

As discussed below, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates cider and other juice producers under the HACCP program. FDA has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Food and Standards Division of the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) to enforce the FDA regulations in Connecticut. FDA has certified a DCP staff member for this purpose.

The HACCP regulations were prompted by a 1997 study by the FDA found that while juice products such as cider are most frequently contaminated during the growing and harvesting of the fruit, contamination may occur at any point between the orchard and the table.

To address safety concerns, FDA implemented 21 CFR 120 in 2001, requiring that juice producers implement HACCP programs. According to FDA, HACCP is a science-based system designed to prevent, reduce, or eliminate hazards in food products through appropriate controls during production and processing. Key components of the HACCP system include: (1) identifying potential problems that could cause food to be unsafe to eat, (2) establishing and monitoring targeted control points to minimize such problems, and (3) documenting the results. The regulation requires that processors achieve a “5-log” (100,000-fold) reduction for the microbe identified as the most resistant microorganism of public health significance that is likely to occur in the juice. (In the case of cider, these are e. coli and cryptosporidium.) The most frequent method used to achieve the reduction is heat pasteurization, although some ultraviolet systems meet the requirements. Other technologies are also available but are not viable in small processing plants. The microbial reduction must take place in a single facility just before to or after packaging, and must be applied directly to the juice. Large processors were required to comply with the regulation within one year, small processors within two years, and very small processors within three years.

Processors who sell direct to consumers are not required to meet these requirements but their containers must have a warning that states that: “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.” FDA has a website, www.cfsan.fda.gov/~comm/haccpjui.html, that discusses a wide range of issues dealing with HACCP for juice producers.

In addition, DCP is responsible for enforcing state regulations that apply to all cider producers, including those that sell directly to consumers (Conn. Agencies Regs. 21a-147-1 et seq.). The regulations impose requirements regarding cider-making equipment and control of communicable diseases, among other things. Apple juice and cider manufacturers must obtain a DCP license, and the division is responsible for overseeing licensees. More generally, the division is responsible for Inspecting retail and wholesale food manufacturers that operate, transport, or store food in the state.

According to DCP, there are 27 cider producers in the state, of which 19 sell unpasteurized cider. An additional four producers sell cider that has been pasteurized or otherwise treated and four more sell treated cider at wholesale.

REGULATION OF CIDER PRODUCERS IN OTHER STATES

Table 1 describes which agency is responsible for regulating unpasteurized cider producers in other northeastern states and the salient aspects of the regulation. In most of the states, the agriculture department is responsible for regulating cider producers. New York bans the sale of unpasteurized cider. Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania impose labeling requirements for unpasteurized cider in state statute or regulation. Vermont has no law in this area.

Table 1: Regulation of Cider Producers in Other Northeastern States

State

Agency

Regulation

Maine

Dept. of Agriculture, Food And Rural Resources

Labeling requirement

Massachusetts

Dept. of Public Health

Labeling requirement

New Hampshire

Dept. of Agriculture, Markets and Food

Labeling requirement

New York

Dept. of Agriculture and Markets

Bans all sales of unpasteurized cider

Pennsylvania

Dept. of Agriculture

Labeling requirement

Vermont

Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets

none

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