Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Food Science and Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Dr. Amanda Lathrop

Advisor Department

Food Science and Nutrition

Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Hard cider is an alcoholic drink made from fermented crushed fruit, typically apples. The popularity of this fermented alcoholic beverage has been on the rise within the last decade. Historically, hard cider has been deemed safe due to the presence of ethanol and the low pH. Although there is lack of scientific evidence to prove that hard cider will and can be safe from foodborne pathogens. Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes are three predominate foodborne bacterial pathogens of concern in the food and beverage industry. Escherichia coli O157:H7 in particular has been associated with fresh produce and more specifically apples, and apple products such as apple juice. The purpose of this study was to determine the bactericidal effects of pH, ethanol, and malic acid on Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes to evaluate the safety parameters for safe hard cider production and storage.

The fate of foodborne pathogens in cider was determined during hard cider fermentation, in a cider model system, and in commercial cider. Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp, and Listeria monocytogenes did not survive a 5-day fermentation period resulting in a > 7 log CFU/mL reduction of each pathogen with no significant change in pH. The final ABV of the cider at the end of the 5-day fermentation was 4.4%. In the cider model system, the lower the pH and higher the ABV the quicker die off was observed, at pH 2.8, 3.0, 3.2, and 3.4 with 7, 8, and 9% ethanol concentration there was a 6.6 log reduction in E. coli O157:H7 population after 1 day. By the 7-day incubation period, no pathogens were detected at all pH and ABV combinations except for at pH 3.6 and 3.8 with 4% ethanol having ≤0.6 log CFU/mL of the population surviving. Similar E. coli O157:H7 inactivation patterns were observed in the model system and in the commercial ciders. The six commercial ciders observed had varying pH, ABV (%), and malic acid concentrations but successfully resulted in a > 6 log CFU/mL reduction in population of E. coli O157:H7 within 4 days of incubation. The ciders with the highest ABV’s, 8.7 and 9.6% observed a > 6 log reduction by 1 day. It was observed that at some point in time pH plays a bigger role in the presence of less ethanol, but it is clear that ethanol and pH work synergistically to kill of pathogens present in cider fermentation, a cider model, and commercial cider.