Visiting a cider mill is a Fall staple. It's one of the first things I did with the new season and I made sure to buy a jug of apple cider and some doughnuts. However, it's important to make sure the one you're visiting (or buying from) is reputable and clean.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) has forced Pica Farms, in Hartford, to stop production and distribution of their cider after inspection revealed unsanitary conditions

...that may cause imminent or substantial hazard to people who consume their products.

Pica Farms was in violation of several health codes under the Michigan Food Law such as:

  • Food and/or mold-like residue found on equipment used during processing
  • Using non-food grade containers to hold and transport food and catch pressed juices.
  • Using non-food grade sump pump
  • Failed to provide evidence showing that they were monitoring sanitation
  • Not making sure that all equipment and utensils used during the entire cider-making process are cleaned to protect against cross-contamination

The MDARD sent a cease and desist order to the cider mill on October 26 and they have until November 5th to show that they've corrected these offenses. Otherwise, they could receive fines or get their license suspended.

Pica Farms may not resume cider production and distribution until the violations are corrected AND verified by MDARD.

If not kept clean and well-maintained, cider mills face having E. coli in their products. E. coli is a bacteria that causes diarrhea with bloody stools in infected individuals. While most people recover, in some cases the bacteria can lead to severe health problems such as kidney failure.

The state is advising anyone who has purchased anything from Pica Farms this year to throw it out immediately.

Courtesy of Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development

Pica Farms is located in Hartford which is in Southwest Michigan - just over an hour from Grand Rapids.

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