Is Your Favorite Orange Juice Making You Sick? The Shocking Truth Revealed!

Refreshingly cold and tantalizingly sweet, a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice on a sweltering day may seem like the perfect thirst quencher. However, researchers have sounded an alarming note on this seemingly harmless delight, pointing to hidden health risks lurking within your glass that may make you think twice before reaching for yet another sip.

The Hidden Dangers of Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice: Enterobacteriaceae

Beneath the delectable taste of your favorite citrus drink lies a potentially dangerous bacterial guest called enterobacteriaceae. A Spanish study that examined the fresh squeezed orange juice served to customers in various establishments discovered an astonishing 43 percent of examined samples had unacceptably high levels of this harmful pathogen (source).

Enterobacteriaceae is a large family of rod-shaped, usually benign bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract of many organisms. However, certain strains of this family can trigger severe illness in humans. Some notorious and frequently reported harmful strains of enterobacteriaceae include Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella. These pathogens are capable of causing debilitating diseases such as food poisoning, gastroenteritis, and severe pneumonia, which may require hospitalization (source).

How Does Orange Juice Get Contaminated?

The researchers cited a few reasons for this high level of bacterial contamination. One primary cause is the improper handling of oranges. Another significant factor is the inadequate cleaning of juicers, which allows bacteria to accumulate on their surfaces. Furthermore, storing the juice for too long before consumption exacerbates the problem.

The study involved collecting 190 samples of fresh squeezed orange juice from different sources. The findings showed high bacteria counts across many of the samples. Apart from enterobacteriaceae, more than 10 percent of samples also revealed the presence of mesophilic aerobic microorganisms, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella.

The worst offenders? Establishments that stored their orange juice in metal jugs. According to researcher Isabel Sospedra, juice preparation and storage methods are vital in determining contamination levels. In her words, “Juicers and juicing machines have a large surface area and lots of holes and cavities. This promotes microbial contamination, which is picked up by the juice as it is being prepared”(source).

Tips to Safeguard Your Health: Drinking Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice safely

If you can’t resist the allure of fresh squeezed orange juice, don’t despair. Here are a few simple tips that you can follow to minimize your health risk:

  1. Wash your oranges thoroughly: Before juicing, remember to thoroughly wash the oranges with water and a mild produce wash. This ensures that any dirt, bacteria, or pesticides residing on the surface of the fruit are thoroughly removed.
  2. Clean your juicer: After every use, disassemble your juicer and clean all the individual parts with hot water and dish soap. Additionally, use a brush to clean hard-to-reach nooks where bacteria may be hiding.
  3. Consume your juice promptly: Fresh squeezed orange juice is best consumed immediately after preparation. If you must store it, refrigerate the juice and drink it within one or two days. Beyond this time frame, bacterial contamination risk increases exponentially.
  4. Opt for store-bought juice: If you’re unable to prepare fresh squeezed orange juice at home, opt for refrigerated, store-bought juice from a trusted brand. Many of these products undergo pasteurization, which can help eliminate any harmful bacterial presence.

The Bottom Line

While the refreshing delight of that tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice may now be a source of concern, you can still relish its sweet goodness as long as you take the necessary precautions. Adopting safe practices such as washing and cleaning your oranges and juicer, and consuming freshly squeezed juice immediately can help you keep potential health risks at bay.

So, the next time you’re in the mood for a cold glass of orange juice, remember these simple yet effective tips. They could go a long way in protecting your health while allowing you to indulge in your favorite summer drink.