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10 Costly Food Recalls


9
Odwalla Apple Juice
Despite its healthy repuation, Odwalla struggled with an E. coli outbreak in its apple juice in 1996.
Despite its healthy repuation, Odwalla struggled with an E. coli outbreak in its apple juice in 1996.
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File

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Consumers became more wary about underco­oked hamburger after the Jack in the Box incident, but no one was expecting the next big outbreak to concern a staple of the health-conscious diet: apple juice. Though the company prides itself in being the healthy choice, Odwalla learned a lesson in the importance of pasteurization in 1996. That year, its ap­ple juice became contaminated with E. coli, resulting in the death of one 16-month-old and dozens more cases of illness.

The recall caused the company's stock to plummet and cost the company more than $12 million [source: ERS/USDA]. This isn't including lost sales, lawsuits and a federal fine of $1.5 million. Odwalla executives pleaded ignorance, as they admitted they didn't realize that E. coli could survive in acidic apple juice [source: Drew]. As a result of the outbreak, the company began pasteurizing its apple juice, and the fruit juice industry (which had previous­ly been self-regulated for the most part) became more tightly regulated [source: Weier].

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