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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287 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?

    Reply
    • Tracy Stone (to crissy)

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

      Reply
  2. Tracy

    Have you ever reviewed juicers for use in the home?

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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? :-)

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • toni (to Heather)

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

      Reply
    • toni (to Heather)

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

      Reply
      • 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.

      http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/body-process-fruit-sugars-same-way-refined-sugar-8174.html

      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.

      Boom!

      Reply
      • 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.

      http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/body-process-fruit-sugars-same-way-refined-sugar-8174.html

      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.

      Reply
  7. Cindy A

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  9. Katie

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

    Reply
  10. David Johnson

    What about Sambazon juice?

    Reply
  11. Karen

    What about the Evolution juice from Starbucks?

    Reply
    • Peter (to Karen)

      Starbucks?? You have to ask?

      Reply
      • 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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • Bertha (to Lambchop)

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

      Reply
  14. urvi

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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. :-)

    Reply
  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?

    -Melinda

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  25. paula

    What about O Organic orange juice and Floridas Own?

    Reply
  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 :)

    Reply
    • Kelly (to Kirsten Christ)

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

      Reply
  27. Mackytack

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

    Reply
  28. beth

    What about Evolution Juices???

    Reply
  29. Tee

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

    Do some research youself!

    Reply
  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 http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/diet.fitness/06/11/cl.antioxidant.juices/

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  32. Daryl Aufderhar

    Concentrated Juices are made with FLUORODATED water!

    Reply
  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).

    Reply
  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).

    Reply
  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!!!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  37. 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
  38. jimguy (to Fernando)

    somebody is making money out of this article, but it’s informative.

    Reply

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