The aims of this study were to evaluate the microbiological quality of fresh-squeezed orange juice and to reduce the microbial population by using various chemical and physical fruit surface decontamination methods. In the first step of the study, polyethylene-bottled fresh-squeezed orange juice samples purchased in Ankara, Turkey, were examined. The average aerobic plate count (APC) and coliform count (CC) varied within the ranges of 3 to 5 log CFU/ml and 1 to 4 log MPN/ml, respectively. Ten of 60 samples contained various levels of Escherichia coli, while Salmonella spp. and E. coli O157:H7 were not detected in any of the samples. Comparing the efficacy of various fruit surface decontamination methods on microbial population of oranges, the best results were obtained following two applications of submersion in boiling water and 5% H(2)O(2) solution for both the uninoculated and inoculated samples. Orange juice samples obtained from surface-inoculated and decontaminated oranges were also examined. We showed that about 17.4% of the E. coli population was transferred to orange juice after extraction, indicating the separation of microbial contaminants from fruit peel during extraction. Finally, the levels of microbial contamination occurred throughout the extraction process on the inner surfaces of a commercial juice extractor at one of the sale points investigated. Significant (P < 0.05) increases in the APC and CC were determined in surface samples of the extractor after the extraction. Surface decontamination and extraction are critical steps in fresh juice production for preventing microbial contamination. Immersion in boiling water for 0.5 min, without using any chemicals, can be offered as an effective method to reduce microbial population on orange surfaces.