ARCHIVED - Ultraviolet light treatment of apple juice/cider using the CiderSure 3500

Novel Food Information

Health Canada has notified Moore Orchards that it has no objection to the sale of unpasteurized and unfermented apple juice and cider products which have been treated with the CiderSure 3500 Ultraviolet (UV) light unit. The Department has conducted a comprehensive assessment of UV treated apple juice/cider according to its Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods. These Guidelines are based upon internationally accepted principles for establishing the safety of novel foods.


The following provides a summary of the notification from Moore Orchard and the evaluation by Heath Canada and contains no confidential business information.

1. Introduction

The CiderSure 3500 UV light unit has been developed to treat apple juice/cider with UV light to reduce the levels of microbial pathogens in juice products. The intent of the CiderSure 3500 is specifically to reduce the levels of Escherichia coli 0157:H7, an organism linked to various food borne outbreaks caused by the consumption of contaminated fresh apple juice/cider.

The assessment conducted by Food Directorate evaluators determined the effectiveness of the CiderSure 3500 UV light unit in reducing the bacterial load of apple juice/cider, how the composition and nutritional quality of UV light-treated apple juice/cider compares to untreated and pasteurized apple juice/cider, and the potential for toxicological or chemical concerns associated with the use of UV light on apple juice/cider.

Apple juice or cider treated with UV light to reduce the levels of microbial pathogens is considered a novel food according to part (b) of the definition of novel food, i.e.

"b) a food that has been manufactured, prepared, preserved or packaged by a process that

a. has not been previously applied to that food, and
b.causes the food to undergo a major change;"

Here the major change is in the microbiological safety of the food.

2. Description of the Novel Process

The CiderSure 3500 unit uses UV lamps to expose a thin film of apple juice/cider flowing through tubes under turbulent conditions. Sensors monitor the amount of UV light that is being applied to the juice/cider and a computer interface determines the appropriate flow rate to achieve a significant reduction in the microbial load of the juice/cider based on this UV penetration data. The UV unit is programmed to compensate for differences that may exist in apple ciders such as total solids and colour as increased solid content and darker colour due to extended storage of apples that can decrease UV penetration.

3. Microbiology

Ultraviolet light has been extensively used for more than 40 years as an effective treatment for the elimination of various microorganisms in water. Wavelengths of UV light in the range of 200 to 280 nm have been demonstrated to effectively inactivate bacteria and viruses due to DNA mutations induced by the absorption of UV light by DNA molecules.

The petitioner has presented data demonstrating the reduction of E. coli O157:H7 in fresh apple cider using the CiderSure UV light unit. Raw, unprocessed apple cider inoculated with strains of E. coli O157:H7 were run through the CiderSure 3500 according to the manufacturer's instructions. Analysis of the UV treated cider found that the CiderSure 3500 was capable of achieving at least a 5-log reduction in the levels of E. coli. For safety reasons, a non-pathogenic surrogate E. coli strain which shows almost identical UV sensitivity to the pathogenic strains of E. coli O157:H7, is used to test all production units destined for the marketplace.

4. Dietary Exposure

The majority of apple juice and cider products sold in Canada are pasteurized using heat. A small percentage of these juice/cider products are not pasteurized and are commonly sold at roadside stands, country fairs, juice bars and on ice or in refrigerated display cases at grocery stores. The UV-treated apple juice and cider would be expected to be consumed in the same way as either the pasteurized or unpasteurized products on the market.

5. Nutrition

It is known that only certain vitamins are susceptible to degradation by UV light. The only vitamin of any potential significance in apples would be vitamin C which is not particularly sensitive to UV light. Raw apples, however, contain only a small amount of this vitamin and this is lost readily through exposure to heat, oxygen, and light during processing into juice. It is thus generally accepted that unfortified apple juice, even if unpasteurized, is not a significant source of vitamin C. Thus, the use of UV light treatment is not considered to pose any new nutritional safety concerns.

6. Chemistry/Toxicology

The effects of UV light on the major chemical components of food were evaluated to determine if there was any potential toxicological or chemical safety concerns associated with juice products that have undergone UV treatment. Data provided on photochemistry indicates that the only degradation products that would occur from UV treatment of juice/cider products are those that occur naturally from sunlight. UV treatment of water has been examined by several groups for by-product formation under actual disinfection conditions and studies using the Ames test have failed to find evidence of elevated mutagenic levels in treated waters. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations contains a section (21 CFR 179.39) devoted to the conditions under which UV radiation may be safely applied to food. Provided the operating conditions of the lamps are within these constraints, there is no objection to the application of this process as proposed.


Health Canada's review of the information presented in support of the CiderSure 3500 concluded that there are no human food safety concerns associated with the sale of unpasteurized and unfermented apple cider and juice that has been treated with the CiderSure 3500. The UV treatment can achieve a significant reduction in the microbial load of apple juice and cider products. It should be noted that this reduction does not mean elimination of pathogenic organisms, especially in cases where the original microbial load of the juice product was extremely high. Therefore, manufacturers should continue to take steps to limit the risk of contamination in their production process.

This opinion is solely with respect to the suitability of apple cider and juice treated using the CiderSure 3500 for sale as human food. It is the continuing responsibility of Moore Orchards to ensure that its products are in compliance with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Any new information obtained which has potential health and safety implications should be forwarded to Health Canada for our consideration in order to ensure the continued safety and integrity of all novel foods available in the Canadian marketplace. The sale of a food which poses a hazard to the health of consumers would contravene the provisions of the Food and Drugs Act.

Issues related to the labelling of products and potential inspection activities associated with use of this novel process are addressed separately through existing regulatory processes administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

This Novel Food Information document has been prepared to summarize the opinion regarding the subject product provided by the Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada. This opinion is based upon the comprehensive review of information submitted by the petitioner according to the Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods.

(Également disponible en français)

For further information, please contact:

Novel Foods Section
Food Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada
Tunney's Pasture
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L2

Telephone: (613) 941-5535
Facsimile: (613) 952-64000

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