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How Orange Juice Companies Have Duped Us

For a lot of people, orange juice in the morning is the closest thing they come to eating/drinking something natural all day. And what could be better anyway? Freshly squeezed oranges go into the very same container that you drink. What could be more pure than that? Or that’s how we were taught to imagine it anyway. The fact is, not only do most orange juices contain more than just orange juice, they’re also not made in this simple way. For as long as mass manufactured orange juice existed, you’ve been duped.

Let’s Start From The Beginning

As with many fruits and vegetables today, oranges are sprayed with pesticides to prevent pests from ruining the crops. Depending where you live in the world, different pesticides can be used to grow these fruits. While you may think oranges are immune just like bananas because of their “protective casing” or the peel, that may not be true. In a study done by Estonian researchers, higher concentrations of pesticides were found in the peel, but one of the pesticides (imazalil) was present in the pulp as well. The oranges were washed with hot water and dishwasher soap and even that didn’t help. The pesticide that was in the pulp was conveniently protected by the peel and could not be removed.

According to whatsonmyfood.com, imazalil is found 69.2% and thiabendazole 50.0% of the time. Other pesticide residues are more rare but still present. The good news is that (at least from the small samples) it appears that organic oranges have shown 5-8 times less of these pesticides than their non-organic counter-parts.

The way oranges or any other vegetable is grown matters. Even at this very first stage of orange juice making, we can see that it’s not as natural as it’s made out to be. But wait, it gets worse.

How Your “Premium” Orange Juice is Actually Made

how-orange-juice-is-made

When orange juice is produced, it is pasteurized, heated and then stored in huge containers.  This storing process can take for months and sometimes even a year. This process strips orange juice of its flavor. To combat this, the orange juice companies add flavor late in the process. This is done by adding natural packs, which are technically natural flavors created by… fragrance companies. This makes orange juice taste like, well, orange juice. Again.

The so called flavor packs and processing temperatures can vary from company to company, and they may also use enzymes to make it a more consistent mix. Yet another issue can occur when companies use plastic that contains BPA. BPA is a widely used synthetic compound used to make stronger plastics. There are many studies linking BPA to harmful effects to your health, thus certain companies have started to produce BPA-free plastics.

orange-juice-fake-fragrance

Just think about that. The image that you have in your mind from commercials is some farmer collecting oranges and squeezing them right in the very container that you drink. However, oranges are sprayed with pesticides, collected and stored with machines in huge containers for up to a year, then essentially flavored by fragrance companies. Now if that’s not deceitful, I don’t know what is.

And just how good are the chemists in the fragrance companies at tricking us? Most people actually prefer the taste in the commercial orange juice than that of actual fresh orange juice straight from the fruit. This is because our senses can be easily tricked by artificial scents and smells (and is on a daily basis). Also, each orange can have a distinct flavor, where as if all flavor is lost during the “premium” juice making process, they can add the same flavor to every carton of orange juice they produce. You’ve come to expect the manufactured taste.

Use Of Flavor Packs, Enzymes and BPA (thanks to Dan from Toxinless)

You can use this list assembled by Toxinless, to determine whether your orange juice contains flavor packs, enzymes or BPA.

Product Flavor packs & processing temperature Use of pulp-dissolving enzymes BPA in containers
ASDA (From Concentrate)
Unknown
(not responding to inquiries)
Unknown
Unknown
Cascadian Farms Organic Frozen Concentrate
Probably uses flavor packs
(their carefully-worded answer makes me believe they do use flavor packs)
Unknown
(response to my e-mail: “We regret we are unable to provide you with the information you requested.”)
Unknown
(response to my e-mail: “We have no information on BPA at this time. Phthalates are not part of the formulation for the packaging.”)
Dole
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
Unknown
Evolution Fresh (sold at Starbucks)
Flavor pack-free
(response to my e-mail: “Evolution Fresh does not use enzymes or flavor packs.”)
Enzyme-free
BPA-free
(response to my e-mail: “…our Evolution Fresh juice bottles are BPA free and do not contain Epoxy resins or chemicals.”)
Florida’s Natural
Uses flavor packs
(not explicitly confirmed by them, but their wording in response to my questions makes me believe that they do)
Enzyme-free
(response to my e-mail: “we do not use enzymes and do not break down the pulp”)
BPA-free
Indian River
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
(response to my e-mail: “…our orange pulp and grapefruit pulp come from an inline recovery system while the juice is extracted and then aseptically contained to be added back to the juice at the time of production”)
BPA-free
Innocent
Probably flavor-pack-free
(based on a 2013 response, haven’t received a reply on a more-recent request)
Enzyme-free
Unknown
Kirkland Signature (Costco store-brand)
Flavor pack-free
(response to question about any of the OJ’s using flavor packs was a straight, “No.”)
Enzyme-free
(response to question about any of the OJ’s using enzymes for pulp-breakdown was also a straight, “No.”)
BPA-free
(“Costco uses HDPE, so no BPA”)
Lassonde Oasis Premium (Without-Pulp)
Flavor pack-free
(“We do not use any flavour packs or pulp-dissolving enzymes.”)
Enzyme-free
Unknown
Minute Maid Premium Original
(Minute Maid’s from-concentrate product)
Probably uses flavor packs
(I’m having trouble getting a straight answer from Coke, the owners of Minute Maid, but this articlesuggests they do use flavor packs)
Probably uses enzymes
(I’m basing this on how difficult it is to get a straight answer from Coke)
BPA-free bottles
(the canned orange juice concentrate containers do contain BPA, but they claim that “the heat involved in the curing process incorporates BPA into the structure of the polymer lining making it unavailable for migration into the can.”)
Minute Maid Pure Squeezed
(Minute Maid’s not-from-concentrate product)
Probably uses flavor packs
(I’m having trouble getting a straight answer from Coke, the owners of Minute Maid, but this articlesuggests they do use flavor packs)
Probably uses enzymes
(I’m basing this on how difficult it is to get a straight answer from Coke)
BPA-free
Minute Maid Pure Squeezed Light
Not worth it.
Basically just watered-down OJ (42% juice, plus water, sweetener, and additives).
Morrisons (From Concentrate)
Unknown
(unwilling to answer persistent questions)
Unknown
Unknown
Naked
Unknown
(I’ve never been able to get a response to my questions)
Unknown
Unknown
Natalie’s
Flavor pack-free
“Gourmet pasteurized” (six seconds at 170 degrees, which is much less intense than usual, but does lower the shelf-life)
Unknown
BPA-free
Nature’s Nectar Never From Concentrate
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
Unknown
Nudie Juice
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
BPA-free
Panera Premium
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
BPA-free (bottles are HDPE)
Odwalla Orange Juice
Probably uses flavor packs
(their carefully-worded answer makes me believe they do use flavor packs)
Enzyme-free
(response to my e-mail: “Odwalla does not use enzymes to break down pulp.”)
BPA-free
(response to my e-mail: “The cap, bottle, and label are all number 2 plastic and do not contain the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA).”)
Organic Valley
Partly flavor pack-free
(response to my e-mail: “Organic valley orange juice is not deoxygenated and no flavor packs are used,” however, they do add/remove orange oil in typical flavor pack fashion)
Enzyme-free
(response to my e-mail: “pulp is completely removed from the orange juice and not mixed back in.”)
BPA-free
Safeway O Organics
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
Unknown
Sainsbury’s (From Concentrate)
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
BPA-free
ShopRite
Probably uses flavor packs
Enzyme-free
Unknown
Simply Orange
Probably uses flavor packs
(their carefully-worded answers to me make me believe they do use flavor packs, which is also suggested by this article)
Enzyme-free
(see Nicholas’ comment)
BPA-free
Sprouts/Sunflower Market Store-Brand OJ
Unknown
(they haven’t gotten back to me, even with multiple reminders)
Unknown
Unknown
Tesco (From Concentrate)
Probably uses flavor packs
(“In-line with EU legislation, the flavours lost from the juice during the concentration process are restored into the product. This is restoring the product back to its natural state, there are no artificial flavour packs added to the product”, which to me suggests they do use “non-artificial” flavor packs)
Enzyme-free
(they say the pulp is filtered at the source)
BPA-free
Trader Joe’s (Conventional)
see the comment by Heretic about whether Trader Joe’s answers can be trusted.
Flavor pack-free
(response to my e-mail: “We do not allow the use of flavor packs in our orange juice…”)
Enzyme-free
(response to my e-mail: “…we do not use any enzymes to break down pulp (although it is strained in many varieties)…”)
BPA-free
(response to my e-mail: “…none of our plastics or cardboard containers contain BPA”)
Trader Joe’s (Organic)
see the comment by Heretic about whether Trader Joe’s answers can be trusted.
Flavor pack-free
(response to my e-mail: “We do not allow the use of flavor packs in our orange juice…”)
Enzyme-free
(response to my e-mail: “…we do not use any enzymes to break down pulp (although it is strained in many varieties)”)
BPA-free
(response to my e-mail: “…none of our plastics or cardboard containers contain BPA”)
Tropicana Pure Premium
Uses flavor packs
(confirmed to my satisfaction by e-mail, though not in so many words, and alluded to in their carefully worded description of their manufacturing process)
Probably uses enzymes
(response to my e-mail: “…the process of removing and adding pulp from non pulp to pulp varieties is considered proprietary…”. They do mention that at least some of the pulp-processing involves mechanical straining.)
BPA-free
(source: see the FAQs area of this page)
Tropicana Trop50
Not worth it.
Basically just watered-down OJ: “It contains less sugar and fewer calories. We do this by using 42% juice that is squeezed from fresh oranges. Then we fortifiy it so it contains the same amount of Vit C as Tropicana Pure Premium OJ, lightly sweeten it with the natural sweetener Stevia, and add some natural flavorings so that it tastes as close to 100% OJ as possible.”
Uncle Matt’s Organic
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
BPA-free
Wegmans Premium Orange Juice
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
Unknown
Whole Foods 365 Brand (Conventional/Non-Organic)
Flavor pack-free
Enzyme-free
Probably BPA-free
(see Whole Foods’ Bisphenol-A policy)
Whole Foods 365 Brand (Organic)
Flavor pack-free
(their response to my e-mail explains that they do not use flavor packs, and achieve similar flavor stabilization by blending juices “from different varieties and parts of the processing season”)
Enzyme-free
(response to my e-mail: “[we do not] use enzymes to break down the pulp.”)
Probably BPA-free
(see Whole Foods’ Bisphenol-A policy)

How to Get REAL Orange Juice

As you can see, regardless if companies use flavor packs or not, your morning OJ is heavily processed. Since human labor is much more expensive than machine labor, companies always find ways to automate and streamline the process. However, the more processing and time is involved in your food, the less nutritious and healthy it becomes. The only way to make sure you are getting the real thing is to make your own. Find farmers that grow organic fruits in your area, buy some fruits and make juice by one of three ways.

Handmade Orange Juice

hand-made-orange-juice

The best but most time consuming way is to squeeze it by hand. Squeezing it by hand ensures that you are using minimal processing and that all nutrients will be retained. Your hand also gets exposed to the vitamins from the fruit. No metals, plastics or other residue will end up in your juice (as long as you wash your hands properly). That means no help from plastic juice squeezers or fancy juice makers.

Juicer (Centrifugal)

If you don’t have the time, you can use the help of a juicer or blender. A blender may not always work as you may end up with seeds in your final product. A juicer uses a fast spinning metal blend and a mesh filter, to separate the juice from the flesh of the fruit.  You get more juice without the pulp and the seeds. A good juicer will ensure that you get more juice and vitamins out of your morning OJ. You can find one of the best here or a cheaper alternative here.

Cold Press Juicer (Masticating)

masticating-vs-centrifugal-juicerA new option for getting juice squeezed are cold press juicers. They extract juice by first crushing the fruit then pressing them for the highest juice yield. Since they don’t produce as much heat as the centrifugal juicers, they retain more nutrients. You can buy a great masticating juicer here and a cheaper alternative here .

Typical Juicer(Centrifugal) vs Slow Juicer (Masticating)

Centrifugal Juicer Slow Juicer
Nutrient Retention Not great. Good juicers retain a majority of nutrients, but still lose some nutrients as they are broken down by the heat produced by the high speed blade. Bad juicers can destroy most of the vitamins. High. This process doesn’t produce heat, thus it helps to retain most of the vitamins intact.
Ability To Process Leafy Greens? Less efficient than slow juicers, not as much juice is extracted from leafy greens. Quite efficient, much better for green juice lovers.
Ability To Process Nuts? No Yes. Perfect for those wanting to make their own almond or cashew milk.
Noise Level As loud as a blender Extremely quiet. A blender can wake everyone in the house, but a conversation can be had alongside a slow juicer.
Speed No advantage — the two juicers, run side by side, juice at the same speed No advantage
Pulp Some A lot
Price Lower Higher

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