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Toxin found in Minnesota apple cider

ST. PAUL - People should avoid drinking Pepin Heights Orchard brand apple cider because of the presence of a mold toxin.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture issued the advisory this afternoon.

There's been no illness associated with consuming the cider, but long-term consumption could pose a risk.

According to a press release, department laboratory tests found the cider may be contaminated with a type of mold toxin called patulin. Any consumers with this product on hand are asked to discard it.

The product was sold in half gallon and one gallon plastic jugs. The affected lot codes are:

* USE BY JAN 27 11

* USE BY JAN 30 11

* USE BY JAN 31 11

* USE BY FEB 01 11

* USE BY FEB 05 11

* USE BY FEB 06 11

This product was sold and distributed in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

Pepin Heights Orchard, of Lake City is cooperating fully with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to find the source of the patulin.

The cider was tested as part of a routine surveillance sampling program by the MDA which confirmed that the apple cider contained patulin at levels higher than the limit established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Patulin is a mycotoxin (mold toxin) that may be found in fruits, vegetables and other foods. Patulin is formed by certain kinds of fungus that sometimes grow on or in these products.

No illnesses have been associated with this patulin contamination. While the short-term health effects of patulin are not clearly established, FDA has identified long-term exposure to the substance as a potential concern.

Consumers and retailers should discard any of the apple cider and direct any further questions to the Pepin Heights Response Center at (800) 652-3779, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST).