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ODWALLA MAY TRY PASTEURIZING APPLE JUICE.

Byline: Associated Press

Odwalla Inc. is considering pasteurization for the first time in its 16-year history after an outbreak of E. coli bacteria linked to its products.

If adopted, the process would involve only apple juice and apple juice-related products, said Sydney Fisher, a spokeswoman for the company. Odwalla's other fruit juice and water products have not been linked to the bacterial outbreak.

Last week, Odwalla voluntarily pulled 16 of its products off shelves in the West and British Columbia. The recall followed reports that several consumers in Washington had become ill after drinking Odwalla apple juice.

By Wednesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta had confirmed 40 cases of E. coli infection linked to Odwalla - 19 in Washington, 11 in California, four in Colorado and six in British Columbia. The company has offered to cover medical expenses for the victims, some with serious kidney damage.

The company's co-founder and chairman, Greg Steltenpohl, wouldn't comment last week on the possible merits of pasteurization, which kills microorganisms. He said he was focused on making his juices safe and understanding how the outbreak occurred.

He added, though, that he entered the industry because ``the vitamin content and nutritional value of fresh food products are generally considered to be higher than heavily processed products.''

On Wednesday, Fisher said Odwalla is assembling a panel of experts in microbiology and nutrition to advise the company on ``several options,'' pasteurization among them.

``Right now we are exploring all the options and talking to all the experts and seeing what is available for us and what makes the most sense for us as we move forward,'' Fisher said.

While 16 products were pulled, about a dozen are being reformulated with various fruit juices and combinations of ingredients and will be returned to shelves beginning this week or next, she said.

None contains apple juice.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 8, 1996
Words:311
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