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Despite acidity, orange juice could still be a source of foodborne disease

Orange juice and other foods traditionally not associated with foodborne disease outbreaks can still be a source of disease, although rare.

Foods that, because their acidity, moisture level, or a combination of both, are incapable of supporting the growth of foodborne pathogens or toxin production without storage time and temperature controls are defined by the U.S. Food Code as non-potentially hazardous foods. But this designation also includes foods that do not support growth but still may contain pathogenic organisms at sufficient levels to cause disease.

Since the mid-1990s a number outbreaks of salmonellosis have been associated with the consumption of unpasteurized orange juice. The sudden appearance of unpasteurized orange juice as a vehicle for Salmonella could be due to a variety of reasons including a greater amount of orange juice consumed and more importation of orange products from countries that might not have sanitary guidelines or regulations as strict as the US.

"The more we find out about the behavior of microorganisms in non-potentially hazardous foods the more we are beginning to understand that some of these foods are borderline or not consistent with the definition," says Dr. Larry Beuchat of Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.