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STORES WILL BEGIN SELLING ODWALLA PASTEURIZED JUICE.

Byline: Associated Press

Responding to a deadly outbreak of E. coli poisoning, Odwalla Inc. will begin stocking store shelves today with drinks made from pasteurized apple juice.

The company, which built its reputation on freshly squeezed juices, decided on a pasteurization technique after Odwalla apple juice was linked to a rash of E. coli-related illnesses. Dozens were sickened and a baby in Colorado died.

Under the ``flash pasteurization'' method, apple juice is quickly heated and then immediately re-cooled. The new process affects taste less than traditional pasteurization, said Stephen Williamson, Odwalla's chief executive.

Many juice makers use a form of flash pasteurization, a technique that has been used for milk since the 1940s.

``Odwalla's first priority is safety,'' Williamson said Thursday. ``(Flash pasteurization) is safe, yet largely preserves the great taste and nutritional value allowing Odwalla to remain true to its vision of optimal nourishment.''

The company said its new apple juice will have a brighter color and a slightly lighter taste. Odwalla will continue to offer unpasteurized citrus juices. The Food and Drug Administration, which investigated Odwalla facilities, had no problem with the way Odwalla produces citrus juices, Odwalla spokeswoman Sydney Fisher said, adding that there have been no reported cases of this strain of E. coli in citrus juices.

Williamson said the company has added several safety measures at its plant in Dinuba in Tulare County. Odwalla will spray apples with a neutral detergent and a chlorine rinse. Special plastic bins will cart apples into the plant and no bins from growers or packing houses will be allowed inside, he said.

Odwalla shares fell 50 cents to $14.25 on Nasdaq after the decision to pasteurize was reported in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 6, 1996
Words:287
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