On Orange Juice

Orange juice.
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[UPDATE June 2, 2009: See response of Florida Department of Citrus in the comments]

More than 620 million gallons of orange juice are sold per year in the United States. There is an undeniable health halo to OJ, but most of it may be unjustified. This, according to author Alissa Hamilton, who has just published “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice”.

From a recent interview with the author:

[Orange juice is]…a heavily processed product. It’s heavily engineered as well. In the process of pasteurizing, juice is heated and stripped of oxygen, a process called deaeration, so it doesn’t oxidize. Then it’s put in huge storage tanks where it can be kept for upwards of a year. It gets stripped of flavor-providing chemicals, which are volatile. When it’s ready for packaging, companies such as Tropicana hire flavor companies such as Firmenich to engineer flavor packs to make it taste fresh. People think not-from-concentrate is a fresher product, but it also sits in storage for quite a long time.

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What you need to know:

Brazil, not Florida is the primary exporter of oranges these days.

Most of the vitamin C is lost during processing and added again to the juice just before packaging.

The “flavor packs” added to juice include ethyl butyrate, an additive commonly used as artificial flavoring in alcoholic beverages as well as in perfumery products. It is added to orange juice because its odor is akin to  fresh orange juice.

What to do at the supermarket:

Dietitians will tell as well that while drinking processed orange juice is not unhealthy, the health benefits of starting your day off with a glass of OJ have been greatly exaggerated. Your best option to enjoy the full health benefits of an orange are eating the whole fruit (peel it first, though).

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  • http://www.fooducate.com/blog staff

    Here is a response to this blog from the Florida Department of Citrus

    Hi Fooducate team,

    On behalf of the Florida Department of Citrus, I am writing in response to your recent article on the Fooducate blog entitled, “On Orange Juice.” Please allow us to share further information.

    Approximately 80 percent of America’s orange juice is made from Florida-grown oranges. By utilizing state-of-the-art technology, Florida is able to provide a consistent supply of high quality, nutritious orange juice year round.

    One of the healthiest morning beverages, orange juice is made only from oranges with no added sugars or preservatives and is processed in strict compliance with all USDA and FDA regulations. When oranges are processed, natural components such as orange aroma and orange oil from the peel and pulp may be separated from the orange juice. After the juice is pasteurized, these natural orange components may be added back to the orange juice for optimal flavor.

    People choose orange juice for its great taste and nutrition benefits. In fact, an 8-ounce glass of 100 percent orange juice delivers essential vitamins and nutrients to support good health and counts as almost 25 percent of the USDA-recommended daily fruit and vegetable servings, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Research shows orange juice is more nutrient rich than many commonly consumed 100 percent fruit juices, such as apple, grape, pineapple and prune. Orange juice is a convenient, naturally nutritious beverage that can be a healthy part of most diets.

    Please visit http://www.OrangeJuiceFacts.com for more information about orange juice.

    Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss in more detail. I can be reached at (863) 499-2500 or kmathis@citrus.state.fl.us. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Karen Mathis

    Karen Bennett Mathis, APR
    Public Relations Director
    FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CITRUS
    1115 E. Memorial Blvd.
    Lakeland, FL 33802

    Phone: 863-499-2459
    Fax: 863-284-4299

    http://www.floridajuice.com
    Healthy. Pure & Simple.