A couple of months ago, I had a (lightly) charged discussion with a good friend on Orange Juice. Specially, my belief that most boxed orange juices (including my favorite Tropicana Orange Juice) had to have some form of (artificial) flavoring added. My view was that to get a consistent taste year round, the companies had to resort to additives such as flavoring.
My friend's reply centered on the "100% Pure & Natural" labeling and the ingredients which are described as "100% freshly squeezed oranges". My friend insisted that there cannot be additives in there without the companies disclosing them.
This is where Alissa Hamilton comes is to shed some light on the topic in her Q&A interview in the Boston Globe on her upcoming book "Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice," due out in May from Yale University Press.
...Orange Juice is not what it is portrayed to be. Consumers have a right to know what they are consuming...
A couple of key points:
- The juice is heated and it's oxygen is removed to avoid oxidation,
- the flavor is stripped from it,
- it is stored for up to a year (so much for freshness!),
- At packaging time, companies such as Firmenich are brought in to add the flavor back through flavoring packs.
Alisa states that these flavoring packs are "technically made from orange-derived substances, essence and oils. Flavor companies break down the essence and oils into individual chemicals and recombine them". Is that considered natural?
This brings us to the issue of labelling. What is juice? what is natural? what is fresh? The nature of marketing is such that each word on the label conjures images for consumers that may or may not reflect what is really inside the box. It seems that the FDA had a couple of run-ins with the juice industry (Juice Label Rule Asked By F.D.A. -1991, Labeling of Juice Products -1998 - could not really understand it from a first glance). If someone has more up to date (and readable) articles, I would appreciate getting them.
Friedrich Nietzsche once said All of life is a dispute over taste and tasting. In this particular case, a discussion on the taste of something as ubiquitous as orange juice revealed much more than what meets the eyes.