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Are green juices pasteurized?

Green juices have become increasingly popular in recent years, as more people seek out convenient ways to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. Freshly pressed green juices provide a quick and nutrient-dense shot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, some people wonder whether these raw, unpasteurized juices are safe to drink. This article will examine whether green juices are pasteurized and the potential risks and benefits of consuming raw, unpasteurized juices.

What is pasteurization?

Pasteurization is a process of heating liquid to a specific temperature for a set period of time in order to kill microorganisms that could cause disease or spoilage. Traditional pasteurization methods were developed by Louis Pasteur in the 1860s. There are several types of pasteurization:

  • High Temperature Short Time (HTST) – Heating to at least 72°C for 15 seconds
  • Extended Shelf Life (ESL) – Heating to at least 115°C for 15 seconds
  • Ultra-Pasteurization (UP) – Heating to at least 138°C for 2 seconds

The pasteurization process aims to reduce the number of viable pathogens in a liquid to make it safe for consumption. It effectively kills vegetative bacteria cells, yeasts, molds, and enzymes that could cause spoilage. However, it does not fully sterilize the liquid.

Are green juices pasteurized?

Most green juices that you purchase from juice bars, grocery stores, or specialty shops are unpasteurized and raw. The juices are simply extracted from fresh fruits and vegetables and bottled immediately. They do not go through any pasteurization process.

Drinking raw, unpasteurized green juice enables you to gain the full benefit of the nutrients, vitamins, enzymes and probiotics naturally present in the produce. The lack of exposure to heat helps preserve these fragile micronutrients. However, the risk is that any pathogens naturally present on the produce are also not destroyed.

Most commercial producers do not pasteurize in order to provide raw, fresh juices with maximum nutrient content. However, some juice brands do choose to pasteurize their products in order to increase shelf life and eliminate pathogens. For example, some companies like Suja Juice use a proprietary technology called High Pressure Processing (HPP) to inactivate pathogens while maintaining nutritional quality.

Should green juices be pasteurized?

There is ongoing debate about whether green juices need to be pasteurized. Some of the key considerations around pasteurization include:


Pasteurization eliminates potentially harmful bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that may be present in the raw ingredients. This prevents foodborne illnesses. Unpasteurized juices have caused outbreaks of salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, listeria and norovirus infection.


Pasteurization can damage some heat-sensitive vitamins like vitamin C and B vitamins. Enzymes and probiotics are also destroyed. So pasteurization can reduce the overall nutritional value and health benefits of green juices.


Raw green juices retain their natural bright colors and flavors. Pasteurization can slightly alter the taste and color profile.

Shelf life

Pasteurization extends the shelf life of juices by destroying spoilage-causing microbes and enzymes. Unpasteurized juices have a shelf life of just a day or two, while pasteurized juices can last 2-4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Overall, there are good arguments on both sides. Some people wish to consume all raw produce for maximum nutrition, while others prefer pasteurized products for food safety.

Potential risks of drinking unpasteurized juices

While drinking raw green juices can provide excellent nutrition, there are some risks to be aware of:

  • Foodborne illness – Pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, Hepatitis A can potentially be transmitted through unpasteurized juice and lead to serious illness.
  • Contamination – Unpasteurized juices could become contaminated during the juicing process from unclean equipment, improper storage, or unsanitary handling practices.
  • Reduced shelf life – Without pasteurization, juices have a very short shelf life of just 24-48 hours due to rapid enzymatic and microbial spoilage.

Certain populations are at higher risk for foodborne illness and are often advised to avoid raw, unpasteurized juices. This includes:

  • Children
  • Elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • Immuno-compromised individuals

However, for many healthy adults, the risks can be low if proper precautions are taken, such as consuming juices quickly after production.

Potential benefits of drinking unpasteurized juices

Despite the risks, some people prefer to drink raw green juices rather than pasteurized versions due to the following potential benefits:

  • Higher nutrient content – Raw juices retain more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients than pasteurized versions because they are not degraded by heat.
  • Presence of enzymes – Digestive enzymes that aid absorption, such as amylase, lipase and lactase, are destroyed during pasteurization.
  • Probiotics – Beneficial bacteria that support gut health are only present in unpasteurized juices.
  • Better taste – Raw juices can taste fresher and more vibrant than heated juices.
  • No chemical processing – Avoiding pasteurization prevents exposure to heat and pressure-based treatments that can damage produce.

Overall, there are compelling nutritional arguments for drinking raw juices, especially for healthy individuals who are not in high-risk groups. However, precautions need to be taken to minimize the risk of illness.

Precautions for consuming unpasteurized juices

It is impossible to fully eliminate the risks of drinking raw juices, but the following tips can help minimize the potential for foodborne illness:

  • Only purchase juices from trusted suppliers with safe handling practices
  • Look for bottles stored properly in refrigerators, not at room temperature
  • Avoid any bottles that are cracked, leaking, swollen, or foul-smelling
  • Consume raw juices as soon as possible, within 1-2 days of production
  • Wash produce thoroughly before juicing at home
  • Clean juicers properly after each use
  • Listen to your body – discontinue raw juice if GI symptoms develop

Keep in mind that juicing does not replace eating whole fruits and vegetables which also provide valuable fiber. But overall, drinking raw green juices can be safe for most people as long as precautions are taken.

Are there alternatives to pasteurization?

For companies that want to eliminate pathogens from juices while retaining raw nutritional quality, some alternatives to traditional heat-based pasteurization include:

1. High Pressure Processing (HPP)

HPP uses extremely high pressure to inactivate microbes. Pressures of 87,000 pounds per square inch for 1-3 minutes are typically used. HPP does not require heat so it preserves more nutrients but can slightly modify flavors.

2. Pulsed Electric Field Processing

This applies short electric pulses to disrupt bacterial cell membranes. It does not use heat but can impact enzyme activity.

3. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation

UV light damages microbial DNA/RNA to prevent replication. It does not significantly impact juice quality or nutrients. However, the juice must be sufficiently transparent for the radiation to penetrate.

Method Impact on Quality Impact on Nutrients Impact on Enzymes Impact on Pathogens
HPP Minimal Minimal Minimal High reduction
Pulsed Electric Field Minimal Minimal Partial loss High reduction
UV Radiation None None None Moderate reduction

These emerging non-thermal technologies can potentially provide safer raw juices while retaining more nutrients than traditional thermal pasteurization. However, the high cost of equipment may limit widespread commercial application. Heat-based pasteurization remains the most accessible option.

Should you drink pasteurized or unpasteurized green juices?

There are good arguments on both sides of this debate, and it comes down to personal choice and risk tolerance:

Drink pasteurized juice if you:

  • Have a weaker immune system
  • Prefer longer shelf life
  • Want to eliminate risk of pathogens
  • Prefer the taste of heat-treated juice

Drink raw, unpasteurized juice if you:

  • Are a healthy adult without immunity issues
  • Want to preserve heat-sensitive micronutrients
  • Want digestive enzymes and probiotics
  • Prefer fresher, more vibrant taste
  • Buy from trusted sources and take precautions

Keep in mind that even pasteurized juices should be consumed within a few days for best quality and nutrition. Overheating juice during pasteurization can degrade micronutrients. Also, consider balancing juices with whole fruits and veggies for added fiber.

The bottom line

Most commercial green juices are not pasteurized in order to provide raw, microbial-sensitive nutrients and enzymes. However, this also carries a small risk of foodborne illness if precautions are not taken. Certain groups should avoid raw juice due to higher sensitivity. But for many people, drinking unpasteurized green juices from reputable suppliers is considered safe and more nutritious as long as basic precautions are followed. Alternative non-thermal technologies like HPP are also making raw juice safer. Ultimately, you can decide based on your personal risk tolerance, health status, taste preference and nutrition priorities.