If you think that store-bought juices labeled ‘100% Juice’ are roughly equivalent to freshly-squeezed juices you make at home, think again. This label is very misleading, and does not reveal any of the chemical processing that most of these juices undergo.
Alissa Hamilton, author of the book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, explains the process that freshly-squeezed oranges go through in many commercial operations to reach grocery store shelves, before they are found in a carton under the ‘100% Juice’ label.
Hamilton explains that big-name orange juice companies, such as Tropicana and Minute Maid (which are owned by PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, respectively), store the juice that is squeezed from oranges in huge airtight containers, and then remove the oxygen from the juice through a process called deaeration. The deoxidized juice is kept in these holding tanks for up to a year, depending on the season.
When juice is separated from oxygen in this manner, it loses its flavor, and therefore must have the orange taste re-added before it is sold. Many companies accomplish this by adding flavor packs. These flavor packs are made from chemically processed orange byproducts and oils.
Since they are derived from oranges, loose labeling laws state that these flavor packs do not need to be in the ingredients list, and brands that use them can still exist under the guise of ‘100% Juice.’
These flavor packs, often made by fragrance companies that also supply perfume manufacturers, are so heavily processed that they can no longer realistically be called ‘natural’.
They are the reason that a certain brand of orange juice has the same flavor every time, a flavor which is distinctly different from a freshly-squeezed orange, and notably different from competing brands, which have their own signature flavor packs.
Flavor packs that are added to orange juice brands sold in the US often contain high concentrations of ethyl butyrate, a chemical that is also used in perfumes, and doubles as a plasticizing agent for cellulose. Does this sound like ‘100% Juice’ to you?
Although most of the research on flavor packs surrounds orange juice, due to the labeling laws, there is nothing to stop other types of juices from using them, as well. Some juices that are labeled ‘100% Juice’ may not use flavor packs, but still undergo mild to heavy pasteurizing and processing with the aid of various chemicals, depending on the manufacturer.
To avoid all of this chemical content, the simple solution is to make your own juice at home. A good juicer is a one time investment that will give you countless cups of real, fresh juice, morning after morning.
Drinking juice, however, gives your body a sudden sugar rush, even when it is made at home. For this reason, it is preferable health-wise to eat the whole fruit rather than juicing it.
In the case of oranges, when they are eaten whole, the fiber in the pulp helps the body to digest the fructose, and blocks some of it from being absorbed, saving you from a dramatic blood sugar spike. The pulp and peel of the orange also contain hesperidin, a flavonoid linked to lowered blood pressure and having anti-inflammatory benefits.
The bottom line: if you must have your juice, make it at home. Do not trust varieties manufactured by soda companies claiming to be ‘100%’ under very lax labeling regulations.
-The Alternative Daily