Letter: The price of fish

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The Independent Culture
Sir: May I draw your attention to a significant error in Professor Trewavas' article ("Is organic food safe?", 30 July)? The mycotoxin patulin, which occurs in apples and apple juice, is not found in cider - organic or otherwise - as it is broken down during fermentation.

If Professor Trewavas was drawing on North American information, he may have been misled by their use of the word "cider" for non-fermented apple juice. They use the term "hard cider" or "alcoholic cider" to denote what we customarily call cider. Similar misunderstandings have arisen over E coli 0157 in freshly pressed apple juice at New England summer fairs.

The work on the fate of patulin was sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Association of Cider Makers following work at Maff (Food Advisory Committee 1993) on packaged, non-fermented apple juices. I believe the work was carried out at the University of Surrey's School of Biological Sciences in Guildford by Professor Moss and colleagues. By using labelled patulin, they were able to follow the degradation process and demonstrate the safety of English ciders.

The NACM also carries out an annual audit of manufacturers' ciders to ensure compliance with its Code of Practice for Cider and Perry Manufacture. The audit includes assessment on pesticide residues and, I am glad to say, they are below the level of detection. Again, the work is carried out by an independent laboratory.


Technical Advisor to The Three Counties Cider & Perry Association

Bodenham, Herefordshire