Monday, May 20, 2013

Surprise: It’s Not 100% Juice After All


Today’s post comes to you after reading a disturbing article from Food Renegade about orange juice. I’m not much of a juice drinker, but when I do drink it I always try to shoot for the 100% juice kinds, like Simply Orange or Tropicana. Now I might just have to buy a juicer and make my own.


100% orange juice? Not likely.
100% orange juice? Not likely.
Image: Shutterstock
According to the article (which has multiple sources), orange juice labeled as 100% juice isn’t what it claims to be. I don’t know about you all, but when I imagined the making of these so-called juices, I naively thought of millions of oranges being squeezed, immediately packaged, and sent off to stores in individual cartons. But that’s not how it works.

After oranges are squeezed, the juice is sent to huge storing tanks. It’s there that the oxygen is removed from the mix. This does two things: first, it allows the juice to be kept without going bad for up to a year; and second, it strips the juice of flavor. Those huge vats, then, are essentially holding large volumes of tasteless “juice.”

That won’t sell, though. Before that juice can go to market, it has to have flavor added back in. To do this, flavor and fragrance companies (yes, like perfume makers) come in and create “flavor packs.” These flavor packs are made from ingredients derived from oranges (like orange essence and oil). But they also contain high amounts of chemicals that add a fresh orange fragrance and taste (like ethyl butyrate or valencine).

The worst part of this is the betrayal factor, at least for me. As a consumer, when I’m shopping for and purchase 100% juice, I want something that is 100% juice—not a chemical mess. The flavor packets don’t have to be listed because, technically, they are made from orange by-products. Labeling laws allow this even if the ingredients have been chemically manipulated.

Fresh squeezed orange juice.
Fresh squeezed orange juice.
Image: Shutterstock
I am not that person who has to buy everything organic (though if I could afford it, I probably would). But I am that person who reads the labels of the foods I buy in an effort to be food-conscious and know what, exactly, I am consuming. Sure, I buy things like doughnut holes and sometimes I even drink Coffee Mate in my daily cuppa. I don’t do it often, but when I do, at least I know what I’m eating or drinking.

That said, the fact that chemically manipulated ingredients are being included in my “100% juice” orange juice is more than a little upsetting. Perhaps it was naïve of me to assume all ingredients had been included on the label, but that still doesn’t make it acceptable for such an omission. It’s these sorts of things that make me want to just grow all my own food. Perhaps someday I will.
Google