The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has advised consumers to avoid drinking certain Pepin Heights Orchard Honeycrisp-brand apple cider because some of the cider distributed in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin could have elevated levels of patulin.

No illnesses have been reported. Patulin is a mycotoxin — a byproduct of some molds — that can grow in fruits and vegetables and is not eliminated by pasteurization. While the short-term health effects of patulin are not certain, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says long-term exposure to patulin is a potential concern.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture said routine lab tests confirmed that the cider in question contained patulin at levels of 58 parts per billion, higher than the 50 parts per billion limit set by the FDA.

The affected product — Pepin Heights Orchard brand Honeycrisp 100 percent fresh-pressed apple cider — was sold in 64-ounce (half gallon) plastic jugs with a use-by date of Feb. 9, 2012. This particular cider should be discarded. No other batch of Honeycrisp cider or any other Pepin Heights Orchards products are included in the advisory.

A similar advisory was issued a year ago for Pepin Heights Orchard cider after routine testing revealed elevated levels of patulin.

For more information contact the company at 800-652-3779, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. Consumers seeking a refund should mail the label from the front of the affected cider to Pepin Heights Orchards, Attn: Cider Refund, 1753 South Highway 61, Lake City, MN 55041.