Patulin in apple juice

The processing market (juice, cider, purees, confectionary etc) represents a significant part of the overall market for apples in the UK, providing an outlet for both culinary and dessert fruit, it complements the market for fresh fruit.

In order to ensure that the processing industry continues to use UK product growers need to understand the requirements of processors and, where ever possible, provide fruit that meets their requirements.

Over recent years there has been much attention paid to patulin contamination of apple products with the UK government, in common with other countries, regularly surveying levels in processed products:

  • In some UK samples relatively high patulin levels were recorded in 1992 in a small sample of juices in a limited surveillance operation, 26% of the samples had over 50µg/kg but one had 434µg/kg triggering some concern by regulators.
  • Subsequent surveys showed a rapid improvement with levels of patulin, in both clear and cloudy juices, dropping and the majority of samples complying with the 50µg/kg advisory limit by 1998, however about 2% of samples were still found to exceed 50µg/kg.
  • In 2001/2002 of 300 samples of mainly juices but also some baby and other apple products 1% exceeded 50µg/kg whilst over 84% of samples showed patulin at below the limit of determination (<6µg/kg).

Patulin contamination has been the subject of considerable discussion among regulators both internationally and within Europe resulting in the European Commission introducing legislation to set maximum permitted levels of patulin in apple products which became the statutory limit in the UK in 2007:

Patulin: EU Limits in Apple Products
Maximum permitted level Products
50µg/kg Fruit juices, concentrated fruit juice as reconstituted and fruit nectars.

Also in spirit drinks, cider and other fermented drinks derived from apples or containing apple juice.

25µg/kg Solid apple products intended for adults, including apple compote, apple puree for direct consumption.
10µg/kg Apple juice and solid apple products including apple compote and apple puree for infants and young children.
  • It is now crucial for food producers to ensure that patulin levels in their products are as low as possible and do not exceed the statutory limit.
  • Exceedances of the statutory limit in apple products would have an adverse impact on the use of UK sourced fruit by processors as well as to generally undermine consumer confidence in both fresh and processed apple.
  • Minimising patulin in UK fruit destined for processing will help safe guard the whole apple market.

What is Patulin

Patulin in food and drink


Penicillium expansum in the orchard



Post-harvest handling of apples