HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (FNS) -- Juice processor Odwalla has begun "flash pasteurizing" its apple juice products and started shipping them back to stores earlier this month.
The fresh juice company, whose apple juice drinks were linked to an E. coli outbreak that caused the death of a 16-month-old child and sickened about 60 people, ran large ads in Western newspapers announcing, "Apple is back. Safe and sound."
The ads touted "flashology," with Odwalla claiming it is "pioneering a new process" for apple juice called flash pasteurization.
The process heats the juice to a certain temperature only briefly; the treated juice must still be refrigerated and has a shelf life of 17 days.
Competitors and scientists pointed out that flash pasteurization is not a new process and has actually been used for years.
"After much consideration and research, we chose the flash pasteurization process as a method to produce apple juice," said Stephen Williamson, Odwalla's chief executive officer. "It is safe, yet largely preserves the great taste and nutritional value. We will continue to aggressively pursue the research and development of alternative methods to bring our customers safe, unpasteurized apple juice."
In the wake of the E. coli outbreak, Safeway implemented a new set of guidelines for fresh juice products, carrying only fresh juices that either have a pH level of 4.6 or lower, making them too acidic for E. coli bacteria to live, or that have been heat-treated or pasteurized.
The Odwalla apple-juice-based drink varieties that had been recalled and are now being distributed again are apple juice, Mango Tango, Strawberry Banana Smoothie, C-Monster, Femme Vitale, Serious Ginseng, Blackberry Fruitshake, Super Protein, Raspberry Smoothie, Strawberry C-Monster, Superfood and Deep in Peach.
The firm's carrot juice and vegetable cocktail, recalled because they were made on the same production line, have not yet been reissued.