Don’t Fall Victim To These Tricky Juice Labels

There’s nothing like making fresh raw vegetable or fruit juice at home with your own juicer. But let’s be honest, it takes time, energy and a commitment to keep up the routine at home. The availability and the variety of store-bought juice concoctions have absolutely exploded on the market and tempt us with convenience, fancy marketings and a bunch of healthy buzz words. Here’s the scoop on how tricky understanding juice labels can be at the grocery store and how to choose the best store bought juices for you and your family.

“100% Juice” Doesn’t Mean Anything

What does 100% juice really mean? Not much. Food companies are allowed to say 100% juice on the label even though their juice contains additional additives, flavorings or preservatives. In the case of V8, they add sodium (salt), flavoring, vitamin C and citric acid to preserve the juice for a longer shelf life. All of these added ingredients do nothing for your body and in some cases could harm you. This isn’t exactly a healthy dose of juice after considering the flavoring on the label could be made from petroleum that is often contaminated with carcinogens. Also, flavoring could have hidden MSG in it – which increases cravings and addiction (so food companies profit more). Companies that use flavoring won’t tell you exactly what’s in it either, they’ll say their formula is proprietary and keep you guessing.


“Concentrate” Is Just A Fancy Name for Syrup

Another way juice companies sabotage you, is by using shelf-stable juice concentrates instead of real juice. Juice concentrates are made from fruits and vegetables that are heated down to syrup and then have water added back in. The concentration process involves both adding in and subtracting chemicals and natural plant by-products in order to condense the juice. During the concentration process, fruits and vegetables lose flavor and this is one of the reasons why companies have to re-add “flavoring” to make the juice taste fresh.

The concentration allows juice companies to keep their juice shelf stable, preserved longer and allows them to save money during fruit processing. In other words, juice companies sell you an inferior product while making more money. 

“Not From Concentrate” Could Be Flavored

What if the label explicitly states “not from concentrate.” Does that mean that the product has no added flavors? No. Actually, that’s a big fat no! When most commercially available orange juices are made, according to the book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, the juice is stored in giant tanks and the oxygen is removed from them, which allows the liquid to keep for up to a year without spoiling. This storage makes the orange juice lose mega flavor. So the industry uses “flavor packs” to re-flavor the juice. Even if your juice says “100% juice” or “premium” on the ingredient label, it can still have these flavor packs, because they are not required to be listed on the ingredient label because technically they are derived from orange essence or oil. Sneaky, huh? Ever wonder why store-bought juice can achieve that consistent “trademarked” taste, bottle after bottle?  Now you know! (Please note: Uncle Matt’s is a brand that is 100% juice, not from concentrate that specifically does not use flavor packs.)


Many juice companies use an ingredient called citric acid to extend the shelf life of their product. Most people would think this citric acid comes from, well, citrus like lemons, oranges and limes, but it doesn’t. The ingredients most food manufacturers use to create citric acid are genetically engineered corn and sugar beets, by synthetically fermenting the glucose from these crops in a laboratory.

Also, some juice companies go as far as adding sugar (that could be from GMO sugar beets), high fructose corn syrup (from GMO corn) and/or other ingredients that could contain GMOs. Tropicana, Ocean Spray and Minute Maid are huge offenders of this – so it’s no surprise they were some of the companies who gave millions of dollars recently in Washington to stop GMO labeling. They don’t want you to know their juices are full of GMOs. 

Remember GMOs have never been tested long term on humans, and are linked to the rise in allergies, infertility and auto-immune disorders, not to mention they have increased the use of toxic pesticides in the environment by 500 million pounds.

It is absolutely critical we get GMO labeling in this country. We deserve the right to know what we are eating and the companies fighting against this basic fundamental right do not deserve our money. 

Juice GMO Companies

Synthetic Ingredients

The sneakiest of ingredients that can show up in juice are in the form of synthetic ingredients that seem natural but are actually man-made and created in a laboratory.

Naked Juice (owned by Pepsi Co) was recently sued because they claimed their juices were 100% All Natural but really contain these synthetic ingredients:

  • Fibersol-2 — a proprietary synthetic digestion-resistant fiber produced by Archer Daniels Midland and developed by a Japanese chemical company.
  • Fructooligosaccharides — a synthetic fiber and sweetener.
  • Inulin — an artificial and invisible fiber added to foods to artificially increase fiber content.

This example is just one of the reasons why it’s incredibly important to look at the ingredient list rather than the marketing lingo on the front of the label. (FYI – The Wall Street Journal just reported, Pepsi plans to drop the “All Natural” label on Naked Juice)

Also, make sure to watch out for other harmful ingredients like artificial food coloring. I was shocked to see that so many innocent looking juice brands use petroleum based dyes to color their juices, like Ocean Spray’s Red Ruby Grapefruit Juice.


Here’s the real killer, no pun intended. Most juice companies use traditional pasteurization or flash pasteurization to destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, molds, and other microorganisms to safeguard our health by heating the juice (this would be the second time your juice is heated if you are drinking juice from concentrate). But during this process, pasteurization also kills raw enzymes, minerals and vitamins – the reason that we are drinking the juice in the first place. Heat kills the bad stuff and good stuff, making the juice pretty much worthless to consume.

Juice companies sometimes even replenish the lost vitamin content with synthetic vitamins because there is barely any nutrition left after processing. In the book Pandora’s Lunchbox, Melanie Warner questions what happens during processing and determined “like vitamins, phytochemicals are being destroyed or removed in manufacturing and therefore aren’t particularly abundant in processed juices. Adding them back in wouldn’t work from a biological point of view, meaning they don’t function effectively when isolated from their natural fruit and vegetable habitat.” Furthermore, most companies create vitamins by chemical manipulation and synthesis, not from actual fruits and vegetables. 

Choosing The Best Juice

So you must be wondering, are there any store-bought juices that are nutritious to drink? I created this chart below to help you navigate the juice aisles more clearly and choose the best store-bought juice. Thankfully, there are lots of options for us! 

Store Bought Juice


It is absolutely critical that you choose organic juice first and foremost. The amount of pesticides that you could be consuming could be astronomical otherwise. We know that increased exposure to pesticides is linked to birth defects, nerve damage and cancer. The President’s Cancer Panel has urged us not to consume food sprayed with pesticides and doesn’t believe any amount is safe.


In an ideal world, you would always be able to consume a juice raw straight out of a juicer. Enzymes, vitamins and minerals start to degrade over time, so timing is important. If your juice is fresh, it’s important to drink it as soon as possible.


Cold-pressing is the most nutritious way to obtain juice. First, the produce is ground into a fine pulp. Then a press applies thousands of pounds of pressure to the pulp extracting every ounce of juice that the fruit or vegetable has to give. This process gets all the vital nutrients from the pulp into the juice. Cold-Pressed juices have a longer shelf life than centrifuge or slow juicers. Juice Press, Organic Avenue, and Luna’s Living Kitchen (One of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte!) all have raw organic cold-pressed juice available for purchase in their stores. Health food stores like Whole Foods sometimes makes their cold press juices in advance or carries brands like Suja, that are found in the refrigerator section. 


The next best thing to raw in-store cold pressed juice is HPP or High Pressure Processing. This method retains food quality, maintains freshness, and extends microbiological shelf life without the addition of heat. After juices are bottled, a high level of cool pressure is applied evenly to destroy any pathogens and ensure the juice is safe to drink while preserving all of the vitamins, enzymes and nutrients. Grocery stores like Whole Foods likes selling HPP juices because they safeguard the consumer from foodborne illnesses more effectively than raw juices. Suja is a popular organic juice brand that uses HPP, but also cold-presses their juice (and gave money in support of GMO labeling – yeah!). Their Twelve Essentials is one of my favorites. They also recently developed a line called “Suja Elements” that is more like a smoothie. It’s the type of product you’d choose over Naked Juice, Odwalla, or Bolthouse Farms Smoothies – since all of those are traditionally pasteurized with heat and can contain additives. See this smoothie comparison chart below for details:

Smoothie Comparison

Finding Organic Pressed Juice Near You

My friend Max Goldberg created the world’s first Pressed Juice Directory, where you can find organic juice wherever you are. He created this directory because he (like me) tries to eat 100% organic whenever possible and wanted the ability to find quality juice on the road while he traveled. I can’t thank him enough for this amazing tool! It makes finding organic juice and traveling so much easier. 

If you have any questions about choosing the best store-bought juice, let me know in the comments below. 

Also, if you know someone in your life that is still drinking a juice that’s on the “worst” side of the chart above, please share this post with them. Spreading awareness about how our food is produced and which companies we should support will change the marketplace! 

I’ve seen this with my own eyes


Food Babe


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294 Responses to “Don’t Fall Victim To These Tricky Juice Labels”

  1. crissy

    I love Lunas Living Kitchen but I HATE their juices. I love my veggies but I don’t want to drink them. Just about all of their juice is kale, lemon, and ginger based which by themselves is fantastic but again Im not interested in drinking them. Whole foods just started doing cold pressed raw organic juices (with MUCH better flavors than Lunas) think you can investigate those?

    • Tracy Stone (to crissy)

      Whole Foods’ juices are not organic. That’s the reason they’re so much cheaper than Luna’s.

      • Samuel Augustus Jennings (to Tracy Stone)

        You’re kidding? I am going to check out juices at Whole Foods today after reading this article.

  2. Tracy

    Have you ever reviewed juicers for use in the home?

  3. Felicia

    I recently decided to go organic & read all labels after watching a film called “food inc”.I was mesmerized and shocked by what I learned. Now my life has changed. My eyes are wide open now.thank you for the article. I found it very informative. Thank you!

  4. Mariah

    Or you could experiment with your own juice. There are plenty of recipes online, juicers/blenders under $100, and you know what’s in them. You can get your fruits and veggies from your local farm. I got a vacuum sealer so I can freeze the fresh fruit for the winter months and still have my smoothies!

  5. Ravi K

    I would stay away from store bought juices and drinks no matter what. If it has to have a shelf life it is has to be processed or treated in some way that destroys the nutrition. Also, take a look, if all the bottles have the same contents and leek, taste and feel the same batch after batch there is nothing natural sounding about it, now is there? :-)

  6. Heather

    Interesting that you never mention the fact that fruit juice is FULL of sugar. A glass of orange juice has almost sugar as a Coke. We shouldn’t be drinking juice anyway, eat fruit, in its whole state, instead.

    • toni (to Heather)

      Natural fruit sugar(fructose) is not the same as added refined sugar in a soda. Geez.

    • toni (to Heather)

      And who are you to say what people “shouldn’t” be drinking? Stick to speaking for yourself. thanks.

      • Heather (to toni)

        I am a clinical nutritionist and know the facts, thanks for asking.

    • toni (to Heather)

      Sorry Heather, but fruit sugar is processed by the body differently than refined sugar and fruit sugar DOES metabolize differently.

      What facts do you know? Huff Po isn’t exactly a reliable source.

      Although the sugars found in fruit are the same as those in refined sugar, their absorption depends on their chemical and plant structures, food processing and food preparation. As a result, fruit and refined sugar have very different effects in the body.

      Starch is another carbohydrate found in plants, made up of glucose. Its digestion depends on the presence of the plant cell wall. When starch is intact, digestion slows down. Fiber is also found in plant cell walls and cannot be broken down naturally in the small intestine. Instead, large intestine bacteria break down fiber, helping to improve your bowel movements and metabolism. Fiber slows the overall digestion process, helping prevent increases in blood sugar and fat. Fruit is very fiber-rich, making its absorption different than that of refined sugars.


      • Heather (to toni)

        toni, you are wasting my time. I have never talked about whole fruit, I am talking about the sugar in fruit JUICE versus the sugar in soda. It metabolizes the same, period. The article I commented on originally has to do with fruit juice. I gave you a link from the HuffPo because I think that is where you intelligence is at. Now please stop wasting both of our times with this back and forth rant you choose to continue.

    • toni (to Heather)

      I don’t believe you. Educate yourself.

      The sugar found in fruit depends on the individual fruit and can be made up of multiple different sugars — glucose, fructose and/or sucrose. Although the sugars found in fruit are the same as those in refined sugar, their absorption depends on their chemical and plant structures, food processing and food preparation. As a result, fruit and refined sugar have very different effects in the body.

  7. Cindy A

    Great article. Thanks! BTW the link to President’s cancer panel goes to a page not found.

  8. jesse

    apparently all these are assumed scales. No studies ever published that these products caused any diseases or made any condition worst. yet are these much better than soda or diet drinks? Perhaps. Our diet is already contaminated with GMOs anyway. So as far as lesser evil … maybe we need to study these juices. My experience with them has been a bit different that what is assumed.

  9. Katie

    what about BluePrint?! they were the first 100% organic, raw, cold pressed juice on the market!

  10. David Johnson

    What about Sambazon juice?

  11. Karen

    What about the Evolution juice from Starbucks?

    • Peter (to Karen)

      Starbucks?? You have to ask?

      • Karen (to Peter)

        It’s not Starbucks brand…. It is Evolution — looked it up and the organic ones they have seem fine

  12. Some Wisenut

    Minute Maid and Odwalla are owned by Coca Cola, no wonder they spent millions on anti GMO labeling!

  13. Lambchop

    I was wondering why Santa Cruz Organic would fund NOT having labels for GMO foods? If their organic, their food wouldn’t be GMO right? I I was under the impression that organic meant NO GMO anyway? They should be the first ones to want labeling. It increases business for organic foods.

    • Bertha (to Lambchop)

      Santa Cruz Organic is owned by Smucker’s, who contributed $387,000+ to oppose & block GMO labeling.

  14. urvi

    what are the components and preservatives in the leading brand of juices??

  15. Zara

    What about daily greens? They’re the most awesome juice brand I’ve ever had. I’m surprised they’re not on the far left of the picture.

  16. Brittany

    So what about Evolution Fresh juices? It’s a juice Starbucks now sells instead of the Naked brand. It says that it’s cold pressed and all natural but with everything coming out about “natural” I am skeptical

  17. Steve

    Anyone know the efficacy of HPP or cold-press pasteurization methods? I’ve found some numbers of heat pasteurization, but not for the other.

  18. nicky

    A huge thank you for this article! A good read, really enjoyed it, now I have a better knowledge of what his words and products are. :-)

  19. Melinda

    Hey there Food Babe – you have been an awesome resource for my family and I as we go fully organic and non gmo – thank you!

    Can you tell me your thoughts on Mamma Chia beverages?


  20. Liza

    Hey I just read your article which was quite informative… but I was wondering is Rocks Organic Squash okay to drink… Ive been buying it for my toddler thinking it was much safer and healthier than other juice drinks… but now I am not so sure… can you offer an alternative by any chance?

  21. Christina

    I have a question, I am pregnant and most of the foods listed on the unsafe list are non pasteurized food. Does that mean that while pregnant I shouldn’t consume unpasteurized juice too?

    • AlmondNut (to Christina)

      When juice is pasteurized, it is heated to a high temperature for a short period of time. Pasteurization destroys bacteria, molds, and unwanted micro-organisms, that might be lurking in the juice. Pasteurization also prolongs shelf-life, making it a much more cost-efficient product. All the raw vitamins, minerals and enzymes are destroyed thru pasteurized the method.

      If you buy organic fresh fruits and veggies, wash and juice it in your own home. Then this is a safe way to make consume unpasteurized juices.
      Store in an air tight container and refrigerate. Juicer or blender can be used.

  22. FruitBat'13

    I personally LOVE Natalie’s Orchard Island Juice Company. While they don’t state they are organic, they are about as fresh as I’ve ever found in the store, even better than Uncle Matt’s in my opinion. The flavor is always changing because they use the oranges that are in season, which are different varieties. That’s how I know it’s the real deal, and not the fake stuff that has the same taste no matter what the time of year!

    • Sam Jennings (to FruitBat'13)

      The flavor always changes in Trader Joe’s grapefruit juice from Florida. Sometimes it is very bitter so I guess that’s good,

    • Sam Jennings (to FruitBat'13)

      The flavor always changes in Trader Joe’s pasteurized grapefruit juice from Florida so I guess that’s good.

  23. So tired of the BS!

    I am so confused. The Naked Juice brand has “non GMO” on the label. So unless I am misunderstood, does this mean Pepsi Co has paid big bucks to have this stated on their juice bottle lable, even though the juice could possibly contain GMOs?
    Can someone please explain?

    I purposely selected the Naked juice over another juice because it stated “not from concentrate”
    I really feel deceived, when I just read that Naked Juice contains synthetic ingredients such as sweeteners.
    I’m sick and tired of all the BS! To be honest, if I had of known it was owned by Pepsi Co, that would have been a red flag for me.

    So I no longer will purchase nor consume this dodgy product. Back to juicing my own fruits/veggies for me.

    • Bob (to So tired of the BS!)

      When the Naked and Odwalla brands were bought up by Pepsi and Coca-Cola, they changed for the worse.

  24. Charlene @ that girl cooks healthy

    I never did care for anything that was labelled as “from concentrate” and in the same breathe classify itself as 100% natural. When you think about it it doesn’t even make sense, adulterated food cannot be label as natural. Anyway, this article is exemplified why I like to prepare my food/drinks from scratch.

  25. paula

    What about O Organic orange juice and Floridas Own?

  26. Kirsten Christ

    Drinking a Suja Elements as a came across this article! I never bought juice until companies like Suja came about. They are VERY expensive but worth a splurge here and there :)

    • Kelly (to Kirsten Christ)

      Suja is great! Delicious and simple, but expensive. May be worth investing in a juicer.

    • Sam Jennings (to Kirsten Christ)

      I bought Suja elements GREEN CHARGE after reading this article and comments. It was on sale at Whole Foods at $3.50 for 12 oz. It is quite tasty still I keep wondering if store bought juices are worthless.

  27. Mackytack

    in the article, it says ‘some’ odwalla’s and ‘some’ trader joes….which are the good ones, and which are not???

  28. beth

    What about Evolution Juices???

  29. Tee

    Are you guys really going to ask Foodbabe about every damn juice brand??

    Do some research youself!

  30. Mecca

    I’m pretty sure that juices that say “100% juice” or if it’s called Apple Juice, Orange Juice, etc then it’s fine as a healthy dose of fruit. This page might be helpful

  31. Susie Ericson

    I can’t seem to find a side by side review (like the ones you have in your site) for juices sold by network marketing companies. For instance, I would love to see a chart that shows whether the juices are pasteurized or not, if they have food colorings, etc. I am in a network marketing company and because so many of the other mlm’s out there sell juices, people are constantly trying to get me to switch to their company. It would be an easy out if I could just confidently say “Well, for starters, the juice your company sells is pasteurized.” End of discussion, and saving me A LOT of time…..does anyone out there know of a chart like that? THanks!

  32. Daryl Aufderhar

    Concentrated Juices are made with FLUORODATED water!

  33. vivi

    Agree, interesting and helpful info. Home squeezed juices made out of fresh organic fruit are delicious and nutritious. So yes, find some time to make them and wash your juicer, that all together shouldn’t take more then 10 min. One glass a day is sufficient (combine 3 or 4 fruits) , the sugar content is what you need to watch for. Moderation is the key. If you don’t consume other foods with sugar, then you’re absolutely fine. The problem is that everything has sugar ( if you’ re a processed food consumer) and that all adds up to amounts that over time make you sick ( lots of illnesses start in the gut where eats and bad bacteria grow too much and kill the good bacteria that keep the immune system functioning well). Of course the sugar from the fruit is better for you then drinking coke , but we still don’t over do it. And don’t forget, coke has other “bad for you” additives. How about green grass juice that helps alkalizing your body? Now that’s a healthy drink.. When you’re out, just drink spring water (without flavors).

  34. vivi

    Agree, interesting and helpful info. Home squeezed juices made out of fresh organic fruit are delicious and nutritious. So yes, find some time to make them and wash your juicer, that all together shouldn’t take more then 10 min. One glass a day is sufficient (combine 3 or 4 fruits) , the sugar content is what you need to watch for. Moderation is the key. If you don’t consume other foods with sugar, then you’re absolutely fine. The problem is that everything has sugar ( if you’ re a processed food consumer) and that all adds up to amounts that over time make you sick ( lots of illnesses start in the gut where yeasts and bad bacteria grow too much and kill the good bacteria that keep the immune system functioning well). Of course the sugar from the fruit is better for you then drinking coke , but we still don’t over do it. And don’t forget, coke has other “bad for you” additives. How about green grass juice that helps alkalizing your body? Now that’s a healthy drink.. When you’re out, just drink spring water (without flavors).

  35. ldscuba

    I would also like to add that in the ingredients labeled as “flavorings” or “extracts” there could be the chemical propylene glycol (pg) lurking about, but manufacturers are allowed to NOT list it as an ingredient if it is under a certain amount. For those people like myself who have pg allergies it is important to know but getting companies to come clean and tell the truth is difficult if not impossible! It is sad that we must fight to get straight answers about what we are putting in and on our bodies!!!

  36. katie bush

    How can HPP “target” pathogens? If you dive 3,000 feet below the water, the pressure is going to destroy every bit of you – not just target the bad stuff.
    how can one believe that HPP targets pathogens while preserving enzymes?

    In my opinion if you’re killing one part of the vegetable/fruit, you’re killing the entire thing.

  37. iamli3

    huh , funny i should come across this article when trying to find information of a juice’s characteristics when going bad , as i have a santa cruz organic apple juice jug who’s pulp has bound together to create a stringy consistency , juice still looks smells and tastes fine , doesn’t expire for 2 more years either , wonder if anyone here knows what’s going on with the juice and if it’s still good to drink?…..

    and so sticking with that subject , so i always got this juice for years cause the bottles were useful and the juice was good at a cheap price and it was organic and only made from fresh apples (plus ascorbic acid i see on the list , it wasn’t always like that was it?) , but this post places this santa curz company in the list of companies that spend to block gmo labeling? but i herd in order for something to be labeled organic it needs to have at most less than 5% gmo contamination , idk how at risk organic apple orchards are , but was i safe in assuming i was getting organic apple juice from this organic apple juice bottle or not?…..

    • iamli3 (to iamli3)

      ok an update to my post , don’t see an edit button anywhere so a reply should suffice , but again i still found the part of santa cruz being part of the gmo labeling problem odd but im not in store to check right this instant , good thing we have the internet so i could just happen to come across what i was thinking about by going on to a virtual store page

      > Non-GMO Project logo
      >Non-GMO Project

      >Santa Cruz Organic® is proud to be an official participant of the Non-GMO Project. For more information about the Non-GMO Project or to view our entire list of verified products to date, visit

      so here we see that this company has actually committed to the non gmoing of their products and being able to boast the verified non gmo label , and i see that this page’s post was made a year ago , so was this a recent development then?….
      also don’t forget to respond to my questions in my other posts…..

  38. Lori

    what would you say about Starbucks Evolution? their labels state they are Cold Pressed. most flavors are probably too much sugar – even if natural sugars?

  39. Heather (to Jessica)

    Thank you Jessica, I am having a hard time believing this debate has been going on since July! But thanks again..


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