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High Hill Ranch Owner Cancels Sample Stations After Reports of Contaminated Apple Juice

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EL DORADO COUNTY --

The El Dorado County Health Department is warning customers of High Hill Ranch to dispose of any Unpasteurized Apple juice purchased in October.

There have been at least seven reports of people having symptoms of E. Coli after drinking the juice – one person was even hospitalized.

Janelle Ludeman’s family went to Apple Hill last weekend and purchased a bottle of the juice to bring home. The next day, both of her teenagers were sick.

“He had a headache, he was sick to his stomach, went to school, then threw up in the parking lot,” Ludeman said.

The Ludeman’s had no idea what caused their sudden illnesses, until they read the El Dorado County Public Health report that said the unpasteurized apple juice from High Hill Ranch may be contaminated with E. Coli.

The news even surprised High Hill Ranch owner, Jerry Visman.

“We have a very clean operation,” Visman said. “You can check our health department record, we always score 100 points.”

Visman said in their five decades of juice making, they have never had any problems. He believed the only place bacteria could have spread was at the self-serve sample station.

“I saw that as probably the only weak link, is that somebody with a cold or flu or whatever would spread whatever they had by doing the samples on the juice,” Visman said.

The County and State Department of Health are conducting tests of the facility, including the apples and their juices. They are also warning customers to stop drinking any of the juices they purchased on or after October 6, 2015.

High Hill Ranch has also hired their own private company to do tests. In the meantime, they have taken off apple juice off their shelves.

Because of this incident, Visman has decided to discontinue the sample stations forever. Despite the voluntary recall, loyal customers said they will continue with their annual traditions of coming to Apple Hill.

“I think we're still going to come here every year,” High Hill Ranch customer, Joy Bandermann said. "I trust the food they make the drinks they make. They do right by families. I see no reason to be deterred.”

As for the Ludemans, they said they will have to think about it.

“I don’t want to take any chances,” Ludeman said. “It would be nice to go up there again, but I can honestly say I don't know if I would want to buy the cider again just for the risk.”

Test results for the E. Coli should be released next week. In the meantime, customers can buy a different local brand of apple cider at High Hill Ranch.