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Odwalla Apple Juice

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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