FoodFacts knows that orange juice is one of the most popular breakfast choices in the United States, with up to two thirds of all Americans including the beverage in their breakfast routines. We were saddened to learn late last week that on top of coming to terms with arsenic in apple juice, we’ll also have to come to terms with the idea that our premium orange juice is not “All Natural” like we’ve been led to believe.
There’s a “secret ingredient” that is included in any premium, not from concentrate, 100% pure orange juice that manufacturers are not required to put on their labeling.
So the secret’s out and here it is: Premium orange juice (pretty much all of it) is made and then stored in tanks for up to a year. While it’s being stored it loses much of its flavor and needs to be “reinvigorated” with flavor packets. For the last 30 years, the citrus industry has used flavor packs to process what the Food and Drug Administration identifies as “pasteurized” orange juice. The top brands on grocery store shelves like Tropicana, Minute Maid, Simply Orange and Florida Natural, among others have always used this practice. The addition of flavor packs long after orange juice is stored actually makes those premium juices more like a concentrate. Consumers have never known about this and are under the impression that the juice they are purchasing is better in both flavor and content than juices mad from concentrates. The “not from concentrate” brands are priced higher than their “from concentrate” competitors. And consumers have felt good about purchasing them believing that they were of higher quality.
But it doesn’t appear to be the case. After the oranges are squeezed and pasteurized, if they’re being used in a “not from concentrate” brand, they are kept in aseptic storage. This means oxygen is removed from the juice in a process called deaeration. It is then stored in tanks for up to a year. Prior to packaging and shipped, flavor packs are added to the stored juice. The flavor packs contain orange byproducts such as peel and pulp which compensate for the loss of taste and aroma. Those flavor packs are also how manufacturers are able to maintain a consistent flavor profile for their juices. Each brand has its own flavor pack formula.
In case you missed the news this weekend, FoodFacts wanted to make sure that our community stays up to date on important issues like this one. While the juice isn’t made from concentrate, it really isn’t “100% pure” like the manufacturers have been leading us to believe. And while the manufacturers are saying that their flavor packs are made from the oranges themselves through the pasteurization process, we understand that the addition of the packs really does defy the claims for the product. Let us know what you think.