Did you know that the 100% orange juice you buy at the supermarket may have been lying in a refrigerated vat for 6 months or longer before it was poured into the carton standing in your fridge?
Or that in order to keep it free of pathogens while chilling in said vat, the OJ is stripped of flavors and colors, only to have them added back when preparing for sale, through “flavor packets”?
And that these “flavor packets”, made solely from extracts of oranges and orange peels, do not legally need to be labeled as ingredients on the product package?
And did you know that orange juice is pasteurized, meaning it is flash heated to prevent harmful bacteria from forming during the long shelf life it is expected to enjoy? Of course, together with the bad stuff, pasteurization neuters vital nutrients and kills the taste.
It turns out that many consumers do not know all of the above. Several of them banded together to sue OJ giant Tropicana, a division of PepsiCo. A New Jersey judge who presided over the case has issued an opinion on the matter – dismissing Tropicana’s motion to dismiss the case. Will the plaintiffs eventually win? It’s too early to say.
But one thing is sure – the picture of a straw coming out of the orange and all the marketing-speak text surrounding the product do create a false impression. American consumers have been duped, yet again.
Orange juice is a big business in the US. Despite a recent dip, this is a market of over $10 billion in annual sales. While oranges are inherently healthy, they have a short season; it is geographically concentrated in Florida and other southern states. In order to bring the goodness of oranges to the rest of the nation, packaged orange juice (and orange juice marketing) was invented.
What to do at the supermarket:
While a nice cold glass of OJ may be refreshing every once in a while, juice is not close to being as healthy as an orange. It is very high in sugar, and low in fiber and other nutrients. So drink it less often, and when you do, look for fresh squeezed juice, not something that may have been harvested last year.
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