The Truth About Store Bought Orange Juice

The Truth About Store Bought Orange Juice

Orange juice is a classic beverage. Kids never tire of it and adults love to enjoy a glass (possibly with champagne) with brunch on the weekends. Not all orange juices are created equal, and we feel responsible to point this out to you. National Orange Juice Day is annually observed on May 4th, and we need to drop some pearls of wisdom about this seemingly innocent and healthy juice.

Florida’s Natural, Tropicana, Simply Orange, Minute Maid, and other brands all have different flavor profiles, and not one tastes like freshly squeezed orange juice. Even “not from concentrate” orange juice doesn’t taste like the fresh stuff. You just can’t beat the flavor profile and nutritional value of fresh OJ. Do you know why this is?

Here’s The Juice On OJ

Once oranges are squeezed to extract the juice, it easily spoils. Anyone who has ever made fresh orange juice knows that it doesn’t last for more than a few days. Orange juice companies need time to bottle, ship, and sell it before the juice goes bad, so they remove oxygen to preserve the juice. This step can make a carton of OJ good for up to one year, but it also removes all the flavor. In order to make orange juice flavorful, companies hire fragrance companies (yes, the same people who develop perfumes) to create flavor packs that have the essence and oil of orange.

The Dirty Little Secret About Store Bought OJ

If artificial flavors are used, they should be on the ingredient list, right? The companies found a loophole because the flavors are derived from oranges, meaning companies don’t need to disclose all the ingredients in the carton. This is why you will often see “natural flavors” on the ingredient list. What this means is that 100% pure orange juice is not as pure as you think it is.

How The Juice Industry Titans Get Away With It

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require companies to list flavor packs on labels of pasteurized orange juice because they are derived from oranges. This means that companies can call 100% pure orange juice exactly that. In fact, Tropicana used to have a jingle, “squeeze me a glass,” for a commercial in the mid-1980s, despite the fact that nothing was freshly squeezed about the juice. This move to “not from concentrate” stepped away from the previous “ready to serve” frozen juice varieties, even though both varieties were neither pure nor fresh.

In 2009, Alissa Hamilton wrote a book entitled Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice. Hamilton aimed to disrupt the “all natural” labeling tactics and expose store bought orange juice for what it was. Several years after Hamilton’s book was published, many people filed lawsuits against PepsiCo, which owns Tropicana, for false advertising and excluding chemicals from labels.

Truthfully, store bought orange juice contains a lot of sugar and processed ingredients, both of which contribute to obesity and diabetes. A tall glass of store bought orange juice may have similar sugar content to a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola. The sad reality is that orange juice is low on the FDA’s list of priorities. All of this is to say that you should not blindly trust every label because the truth isn’t there. If you are going to enjoy a glass of orange juice, make some freshly squeezed orange juice from real oranges. That’s the best way to celebrate National Orange Juice Day.