The FDA issued the warning after the New York State departments' of Health and Agriculture and Markets, and local health departments in northern New York suggested the recent foodborne disease outbreak could be due to the consumption of unpasteurized apple cider.
Under FDA regulations, most juice processors are required to use Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to increase the protection of consumers from illness-causing microbes and other hazards in juices.
The FDA pointed out, however, that products that have not been treated to kill harmful bacteria, may be sold in bottles or by the glass in supermarkets, at farmers markets, at roadside stands or in some juice bars.
The government body noted that untreated products that are sold in bottles are generally displayed on ice or in refrigerated cases and are required to carry a warning label stating that the product, "may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems".
Untreated, freshly squeezed beverages that are sold by the glass are not required to carry the warning label.
The FDA last month published the final 2004 Produce Safety Action Plan aimed at minimizing the number of foodborne illnesses that are contracted each year through the consumption of fresh produce.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the US each year, 76 million people become sick, more than 325,000 people are hospitalized, and 5,000 people die from foodborne illness, and believes that, in the 1990s, at least 12 percent of foodborne-outbreak-associated illnesses were linked to fresh produce.