Juice firm forced to close after FDA raises safety concerns

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sun Valley Juice Company complied with the letter ordering it to cease operations
Sun Valley Juice Company complied with the letter ordering it to cease operations

Related tags: Food and drug administration, Hazard analysis and critical control points, Pasteurization

A juice manufacturer has been ordered to close after safety concerns raised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Sun Valley Juice Company of Ketchum, Idaho complied with the order from the agency.

The firm does not pasteurize its orange juice, a process that kills bacteria known to cause illness such as E. coli,​ so it had to take other steps to prevent potential product contamination.

Sun Valley Juice Company said since the juice is made naturally without any preservatives or a pasteurization process, it is strictly regulated under the Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP).

Company can restart if in compliance

It can resume operations once the FDA is confident it can abide by appropriate laws and regulations.

The FDA said it had made several attempts to help the company comply with the applicable regulations before seeking the shutdown.

In 2006, a federal judge signed a court-ordered agreement, called a consent decree, between the FDA and Sun Valley Juice Company, in which the company agreed to establish and implement a hazard prevention plan.

However, FDA said investigators repeatedly found the company out of compliance with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the terms of the consent decree.

“When a company repeatedly disobeys food safety laws and regulations, and does not stick to a court-ordered agreement designed to protect public health, the FDA must use the full power of the courts to protect consumers​,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.

Gene Grabowski, partner at kglobal, a public affairs and public relations firm, said if a company such as Sun Valley chooses to process its food and juice products without pasteurization, it must meet very stringent tests established by the FDA.

"While the punishment of a shutdown might seem severe, it’s actually appropriate if a company such as Sun Valley doesn’t implement mandated safety steps, which are largely self-regulatory and for the most part largely just overseen by the FDA," ​he told us. 

"The FDA cannot risk being perceived as too lax because the consequences would be quite distressing for the agency if someone became sick or died from ingesting a Sun Valley product that was unpasteurized."

No need for preservatives or pasteurization

Sun Valley Juice Company was founded in Sun Valley, Idaho over 20 years ago by John Scherer.

Orange juice, when produced naturally, has no need for preservatives or pasteurization, said the firm on its website.

“When juicing the oranges, the machines pull off just enough rind oil from the skin of the oranges into the juice,” ​it added.

“The rind oil then acts as a natural preservative, which allows Sun Valley Juice Company to put a preservative free juice on the shelves that won't spoil in just a few short days. On the other hand, it will not last for weeks like many other commercially produced orange juices.” ​ 

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Juice Drinks

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