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Update: Contaminant found in Pepin Height's Honeycrisp cider

If you have Pepin Heights' Honeycrisp 100 Percent Fresh Pressed Apple Cider, don't drink it if the "use by" date reads Feb. 9.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Pepin Heights Orchards are advising consumers to avoid the cider after department laboratory tests found some of the half-gallon jugs may be contaminated with a mycotoxin called patulin.

The product was sold in plastic jugs dated "FEB 09 12." Any consumers with this product at home should discard it.

"The nature of the concern is not immediate, but limiting long-term exposure," said Michael Schommer with the MDA.

Pepin Heights distributed the cider in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The Lake City-based orchard produces several other apple cider products. All have been tested. None of them or any other Honeycrisp batch is tainted, state officials said.

The cider was tested as part of a routine surveillance sampling program by the MDA. The results came to light this week.

"We are issuing this advisory out of an abundance of caution," said Chris Sandwick, director of sales and marketing at Pepin Heights Orchards. "We take the safety of our consumers very seriously.

Pepin Heights Orchards has invested heavily in state-of-the-art cider processing facilities, the company said in a prepared statement. "It also reviews and updates its safety processes annually and carefully follows its food safety plan, which is reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and includes regular onsite inspections of Pepin Heights facilities and practices," the release said. Schommer confirmed Friday afternoon that the apple cider contained patulin at levels of 58 parts per billion. This level is higher than the 50 parts per billion limit set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Patulin is a mycotoxin that can be found in fruits, vegetables and other foods. Patulin is formed by fungi that sometimes grow on or in these products.

Patulin is not eliminated by pasteurization.

"The levels detected do not pose short-term health risks," Schommer said.

MDA is not recommending that anyone who drank the juice seek medical attention. But as always, he said, if you notice changes in you or your child's health, it is wise to consult a doctor.

No illnesses have been associated with this patulin contamination. Retailers and consumers with questions may contact Pepin Heights by calling 800-652-3779 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Consumers seeking a refund should mail the label from the front of the affected cider to Pepin Heights Orchards, Attn: Cider Refund, 1753 South Highway 61, Lake City, MN 55041.