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.

V8

“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.)

GMOs

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.

Pasteurization

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

Organic

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.

Raw

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-Pressed

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. 

HPP

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

  1. Ron

    I noticed that you listed bolthouse under two different catagories. How about the carrot juice?

    Reply
  2. Myra

    I was wondering the same thing as Ron ?

    Reply
  3. Jennifer Mitchell

    I confuse myself all the time with the wrong knowledge… thanks for the charts because that will help me so much in the future – just attach in my coupon book for safe keeping! I definitely do not eat enough fruits and vegetables and thought introducing juices like these would give me an edge, but I was, of course, choosing the WORST possible!!! Not anymore! Thank you!!!

    Reply
  4. Mary

    I really love getting the lowdown on so many things! I would like to know the lowdown on the vitamin products made from fruits & vegetables- how are they processed? Are they still considered food? Are all the enzymes & other factors still in place? Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Lola

    Why is adding vitamin c a no-no?

    Reply
    • paul (to Lola)

      “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.”

      Reply
      • Paige (to paul)

        Citric acid is not vitamin C. Vitamin C is ascorbic acid. Also, regardless of origin, citric acid is citric acid. If you looked at the citric acid in a juice, you wouldn’t be able to tell where it came from (and thus, it is in no way affected by the GMO or non-GMO status of its source). The “synthetic fermentation” she gets so freaked out about is similar to how pickles ferment – it’s a natural process of bacteria breaking down sugars and giving off one or more byproducts. “Synthetic” and “lab” should not be words that cause alarm – fermenting in a controlled environment is much more environmentally-friendly, safe, and cost-effective.

    • Concerned (to Lola)

      Because it is not real Vitamin C but synthetic created in a lab. The body does not utilize the same way. I don’t know what these other 2 are talking about. Yes, vitamin C is not citric acid. But citric acid is usually GMo and it DOES matter.

      Reply
      • Jacobus (to Concerned)

        Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, but the same objections apply. It is made as a conversion from corn starch, which by production percentages is over 95% certain to be GMO, in the US at least.
        I sometimes buy such vitamin C powder to stir into juice when sick, but always look for a statement it was from organic corn or at least Non-GMO corn.

  6. IT headhunters

    All this time, I’ve been making my family drink V8, Naked Juice, and Odwalla. Thank you for all this detail on juices. I think I’ll be making my own juice from now on.

    Reply
  7. Karen Fettig

    I am curious has Naked updated their ingredients? They say GMO free on the green smoothie.

    Reply
  8. Beth Anne

    I know Florida’s Natural Orange juice is not organic, but other than that flaw would you recommend it?

    Reply
  9. Gerald M

    After reading that, I’m going to stop drinking any juice. I live in a small town, so finding any of those best of juices here is impossible. I’ll just not drink any more juice.

    Reply
  10. Lori T

    I am so very grateful that food babe has thoroughly researched products! I have learned so much from her and just want to make the world aware! I wish that we had a supermarket that had these juices. I do make juice however for my husband and I almost every day. Eating organic and reading labels is very time-consuming. I feel that it is worth all the effort for our health and not having to take pharmaceuticals. Thanks again food babe for all you do :-)

    Reply
  11. Sydney

    What are some of the best stores to find the truly organic juices? Trying to make the switch to all organic in our home it would be wonderful to know where to find the right juices!

    Reply
  12. Jill in San Diego

    At our local natural foods store (Jimbo’s, in San Diego) we have a brand called “evolution” which is cold pressed, not heated, and with organic non-GMO verified options (not all of them though). It’s the best thing I’ve found around here so far aside from fresh homemade.

    Reply
  13. Janell Carlson

    I buy my boys juice that is certified organic but only contains 10 percent juice… is this okay you have? It also lists citric acid as a ingredient.

    Reply
    • Paige Wendland (to Janell Carlson)

      Don’t worry about citric acid – it’s the same stuff you find in lemons and limes, and it helps the juice keep its color and flavor (like when you put lemon juice in a fruit salad to keep it from turning brown).

      If you looked at the structure of the citric acid in a juice with a very strong microscope, you wouldn’t be able to tell where it came from (and thus, it is in no way affected by the GMO or non-GMO status of its source). The “synthetic fermentation” she gets so freaked out about is similar to how pickles ferment – it’s a natural process of bacteria breaking down sugars and giving off one or more byproducts. “Synthetic” and “lab” should not be words that cause alarm – fermenting in a controlled environment is much more environmentally-friendly, safe, and cost-effective.

      Reply
      • Concerned (to Paige Wendland)

        Paige, you don’t know what you’re talking about

      • Paige (to Paige Wendland)

        Concerned, would you like to read my published research regarding what I just mentioned?

    • rosemaryk4 (to Janell Carlson)

      Janell, if you want to learn more about “CITRIC ACID”, here is some information I found that may be helpful to you. Learn from the best.
      http://girlmeetsnourishment.com/citric-acid/

      Reply
  14. Linda

    I would like toknow about Florida’s Natural Orange Juice (with pulp & without pulp).
    I do make my own smoothies with forzen mixed berries, apples, bananas, spinach with Almond Breeze vanilla almond milk. I would like your opinion on this also. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Lesley (to Linda)

      Almond Breeze uses carrageenan in its products. You might want to look into that. The silk almond milk does not have it on its list of ingredients.

      Reply
  15. Olivia

    Thanks for the info. Just bought some juices from the store and after reading your article I realize they have been flash pasteurized and I need to start checking labels and making sure I’m getting a good healthy product!!!! Now I know!!!

    Reply
  16. Raymond Ebbeler

    Food Babe Hi

    I read your posts everyday because I am a distributor of Vemma which uses the mangosteen “Queen of the Fruits” as antioxidants — their core ingredient. It is a business opportunity that uses network marketing as the business model. Since organic and non GMOs is the way to go, have you looked into B.K. Boreyko’s product line on health and fitness. Always like to play the devil’s advocate in comparing health products since other network marketing health and wellness products are overpriced and fall short of the health and wellness that is promoted; Is the products that you are giving away also a network marketing opportunity. I would sign up under you if this were true since these are organic and non-GMO. My friend Terri would love for me to do this…

    Reply
    • nick (to Raymond Ebbeler)

      you can’t be serious… don’t give people false information. vemma is not good for you at all.

      Reply
  17. Jennifer

    I was wondering if you have any information on a particular juice my local health market sells a lot of–
    Synergy organic & raw–
    Ingredients are -95%G.T.’s
    Organic raw kombucha*
    Blackberry juice*
    Passion fruit juice*
    Vegan and gmo free
    Seems right but I don’t want to be fooled.
    Thank you for all your info!

    Reply
  18. Jennifer

    Well after reading a couple articles about kombucha I guess I won’t be drinking the above Synergy juice with kombucha :-( ugh so difficult. Guessing in going to just buy whole foods fresh pressed juice and hunt down the ones on your list only.

    Reply
    • Kim (to Jennifer)

      What articles are you referring to? We drink a lot of homemade kombucha around here and I’m always wanting to learn more.

      Kombucha is very easy to make at home. All you need to do is buy a SCOBY (or find a friend who has one). Then the only ingredients you need are water, sugar, and tea.

      Reply
  19. Quiriana

    Thank you so much! I am so glad and grateful for everything you do. We buy Uncle Matt’s and we will definitely will try Suja. Thanks and Blessings!

    Reply
  20. Heather

    I have a question. Knowing that Whole Foods doesn’t allow pesticides in its products, is it safe to assume their non organic orange juice is ok? Or other non organic items for that matter?

    Reply
    • Cristy (to Heather)

      While many tend to assume as much, Whole Foods Market makes no claim that all of their products are pesticide-free. Although WFM probably provides more pesticide-free options than any other retailer, there are simply not enough clean producers in the industry to sustain their business exclusively. If you want to avoid pesticides in that store or any other, you must shop for organic products, period. If the people supporting organic agriculture with their shopping dollars continue to take that stand, influence food producers and spread the word, perhaps the day will come when Whole Foods Market really can be pesticide-free.

      Reply
  21. leon brown

    thanks so much for the info just wondering if you have any recommendations on trader joes juice I do majority of my shopping from there

    Reply
  22. Melodie

    I am shocked to read this. I have purposely chosen 100% juice for my kids, without knowing the “from concentrate” was harming them. Explains their reaction when drinking it!

    I found “Synergy Organic and Raw” drink in the store today. It’s made from GT’s Kombucha. Have you tried it. Is is a sneaky drink, or one that is truly clean and healthy for me and my family???

    http://synergydrinks.com/index.php

    Keep up the GREAT work!

    Reply
  23. Gina

    What about Blueprint Cleanse? They are organic, raw, non-GMO and hard-pressed.

    I like the flavor of their juices and they deliver and can be bought individually or by the case at Whole Foods.

    http://blueprintcleanse.com/

    Reply
  24. Yvonne

    I am sensitive to corn. No wonder my doctor told me not to drink manufactured juices. Apple juice really gives me trouble. Wonder if the amount of corn sugar varies by the type of juice?

    Reply
  25. Erica

    What about Juicy Juice?

    Reply
  26. Bei

    Health.

    Reply
  27. Tawnee

    Is the target brand simply balanced organic juice okay? What about their other simply balanced products, are they considered healthly overall?

    Reply
  28. DanGo

    Odwalla: Don’t ALL their juice labels say they don’t use GMO if a GMO choice exists? Is this a lie?

    Reply
  29. Stacy

    Suja Juice is not the best. They use high pressure processing (HPP). Google it. Also there’s a class action lawsuit against the company. The best juice is made in your own kitchen.

    Reply
  30. Mike

    Hello, I am a student that is interested in started my own juice business. I was first thinking of doing a juice truck, but I now want to scale up and do something bigger. We want to start small and local and then scale up to the size of suja and evolution. Do you have any advice or tips on what kind of business you would like to see? We want to separate ourselves by using local products here in the Midwest, any feedback would be great! Thanks!

    Reply
  31. Laura Harkins

    Love all if your posts Vani. I save many of your articles, posts, links and have learned so much but some of your suggestions are hard to find where I live. Because of you I sought out sprouted bread by Silver Hills for my daughter – very similar to the one you suggest. And because of you we got rid of a few things with natural flavours.

    Do you have any suggestions for juice in Ottawa, Ontario Canada? I sure wish we had a Whole Foods store here! We just purchased a Vitamix which is great for smoothies which we love but my daughter also likes juice occasionally. We were buying Bolthouse and Arthur’s but now you have me worried. Is Arthur’s okay? I know you can strain juice with a Vitamix but not always convenient. Any suggestions aside from buying a juicer? We try to eat a non-GMO, organic whole foods diet as I refuse to let my family be a science experiment so any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Reply
  32. william

    Very informative article. I was about to write one on HPP myself as the 2 biggies have arrived in Honolulu in the past couple months. What do you think of Evolution Fresh compared to Suja? Equivalent?

    Reply
  33. Monika

    Are there any safe juice boxes for kids lunches i can buy in a supermarket.

    Reply
  34. Lesley

    The problem with the Suja Elements juice is that, Who can afford to purchase it? I went to Whole Foods to get one to try and it was $8 on sale..
    Stick your own fruits and veggies in a juicer or blender.

    Reply
  35. Alan

    the information regarding NFC juices is not correct and misleading. Flavours are NOT permitted with NFC juices. Also a concentrate is NOT a syrup at all.

    Reply
  36. Sue

    I was surprised that you listed POM. I like their POM Coconut. Do you have any
    posts on the best coconut waters? Thanks!

    Reply
  37. Aaron Smith

    Even if you agonize over everything you eat over your whole life, you will still die someday. Spend the time you have with your loved ones instead of wasting it analyzing your food choices. Eat salad, avoid deep-fried twinkies more than once or twice for novelty and go about your business. Whatever time you spend researching to choose between super-ultra-organics will not be recouped in the form of an extended life span.

    Reply
  38. Monica

    Pregnant:
    What kind of juice would you recommend to a pregnant woman?

    Reply
  39. Fernando (to Cary)

    Who do we believe then? It’s so hard to know what is true and what has an agenda. I certainly have not time or desire to become a food scientist. I would like to hear unbiased opinions from someone we can trust. Thanks for pointing out dubious information in this article

    Reply

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