11 Aug The Main Squeeze: How Safe is Your Juice?
By Elizabeth Canepari, MS, Guest Blogger
Take a stroll down any street and I’d be willing to bet a few bucks you’ll spot someone sipping away at a fresh cup of juice. From sweet, fruity blends to garlicky, green concoctions, juicing is a great way to get your daily dose of fresh fruits and veggies. With juice bars being all the rage, how safe is drinking fresh juice?
So, What’s The Risk?
Fresh juices (not the big name OJ found in your local supermarket) have not been pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process in which juice is heated to a high temperature for a certain period of time to kill harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, and listeria – all while keeping the integrity of the nutrients. Although it is typically recommended we consume pasteurized products, fresh juice can be kept safe with these user friendly tips.
When prepping fresh juice wash all produce before sticking it through the juicer. This means running each fruit or vegetable under cold water just as you would an apple before chomping. Washing with good ol’ H20 will rid bacteria, dirt, and any residual pesticides from the surface of the produce. This is the first step in minimizing your chances of becoming sick from fresh juice.
Inspect your fruits and veggies for bruises, spots, and blemishes. These not only make your produce less attractive, but bruised skin is an entry way for bacteria and other contaminants. Trim the bruised areas before juicing to minimize the chances of any not-so-friendly pathogens tainting your beverage.
From a nutritional stand point it’s best to drink fresh juice hot (or should I say “cold”) off the press. Once the juice has been exposed to the air, vitamins and minerals begin to oxidize and lose some of their value. However, if you’re looking to save your goods for later, refrigerate your juice up to three days in an air tight container below 41°F. This will help slow down the oxidation process and keep your juice safe to sip, as bacteria and other pathogens don’t multiply as fast under chilly conditions.
To Drink Or Not To Drink?
Unpasteurized, fresh juices can be safely incorporated into a healthy diet as long as basic food safety principals are being used. However, those with compromised immune systems like young children, the elderly, and pregnant women should slurp with caution as their risk of becoming sick is much greater. Washed, trimmed, and chilled juice may be a perfectly safe addition to your summer meal plan!
TELL ME: What’s your favorite fruit or veggie to juice?
Elizabeth Canepari earned her Master of Science degree in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology from Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to pursuing a career in nutrition, she taught health and physical education in New Jersey. Elizabeth will be working as a dietitian in an outpatient pediatric obesity program in Central New Jersey.