Juices produced without pasteurization have become increasingly rare in the United States following an E. coli outbreak linked to unpasteurized juice 14 years ago in which one child was killed and 65 people were sickened after drinking Odwalla juice.
In a warning letter to the Penguin Juice Company dated September 8, the FDA said it had found “serious violations of the juice Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulation” in the course of inspections that took place in March and April this year. In particular, it said that the company’s juice concentrates were mislabeled as pasteurized when they were merely heated, and did not undergo a ‘pasteurization 5-log reduction’ – a process by which 99.999 percent of viable microorganisms are killed.
As well as a detailed list of what the company needs to do to bring its HACCP plan into compliance, the FDA said Penguin’s Natural Apple Juice Blend Concentrate, its White Grape Juice Blend Concentrate, and Passion Fruit Juice Blend Concentrate are misbranded as “From a Pasteurized Quality Product.”
“This may lead a consumer to believe that your product has been pasteurized or otherwise treated to achieve a 5-log pathogen reduction. However, based on our investigation, your product is neither pasteurized nor treated to achieve a 5-log pathogen reduction,” the FDA said in its warning letter.
In addition, the agency found that the company’s Orange Juice Concentrate, Pineapple Juice Concentrate and Prune Juice Concentrate contain ingredients that are disallowed under labeling regulation, including malic acid, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate, among others.
The Penguin Juice Company has until the end of the month to take corrective action. No one from the company responded to a request for comment prior to publication.