Why Is Naked Juice Removing “All Natural” from Its Product Labels?

Naked Juice Smoothie - All Natural?

Naked Juice is a very successful brand under the PepsiCo umbrella. Selling juice has been a profitable venture for both Coke and Pepsi, as pressure mounts to diversify from their core cola brands. Indeed the health halo attached to juice blends has also helped.

Fooducate community members know better. Juices, while no doubt delicious, are a mega-dose of concentrated sugar, straight to your bloodstream. Many of the nutrients present in the whole fruit are lost immediately when juiced or within a few hours, as well as most of the fiber content. That’s why we recommend limiting your intake and enjoying half a cup of fresh squeezed juice sparingly. Yeah, we know – it’s hard to stop at 4 fluid ounces.

Of course, manufacturers want you to consume more. That’s why many Naked Juice bottles that are sold in vending machines, coffee shops and airports (clearly intended for a single person) actually have 2 cups of juice as the portion consumed.

Naked Juice is considered a premium brand juice, and it commands a high price for its blends of exotic fruits. The packaging and labeling exude an air of health with claims such as

  • No sugar added
  • All Natural
  • 100% fruit
  • Etc…

All was fine and dandy in Naked-land until a class action lawsuit was filed by consumers who peeked under the hood and decided that some of the ingredients used were not so natural. The plaintiffs don’t consider the GMO soy used in some smoothie blends to be a natural ingredient, nor the inulin and other lab manufactured oligo-saccharides, which are added to bulk up the fiber content of some drinks.

PepsiCo decided to settle without admitting any wrongdoing and will pay $9 million dollars. Why did PepsiCo settle? Well, there is a regulatory black hole when it comes to defining what is “natural”. The FDA guidance is very limited, and that’s why for most manufacturers, it’s a no-brainer to slap “All Natural” on their product packaging.

But PepsiCo figured it would do more harm to go to trial than settle for a tiny amount (compared to its billions in ad spend).

You’re probably very curious to see what ingredients go into those pseudo natural Naked juices right?

Here is the ingredient list of the berry veggie smoothie:

Sweet Cherry Puree, Purple Carrot Juice from Concentrate (Water, Purple Carrot Juice Concentrate), Red Beet Juice from Concentrate (Water, Red Beet Juice Concentrate), Sweet Potato Puree, Strawberry Puree, Plum Puree, Sweet Corn Puree, Apple Puree, Chickpea Puree, Lemon Juice, Inulin, Natural Flavors, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), D-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Niacinamide, D-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Beta Carotene (Vitamin A), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B2).

At first glance, the ingredient list looks very good: a variety of fruits and vegetables, no artificial colors or sweeteners, no scary additives.

At second glance we see:

1. Lots of purees. This is a code word for sugar. A cup of this juice has 18 grams or 4.5 teaspoons of sugar.

2. Inulin – what’s chicory root doing in a beverage? Ensuring you’ll be astounded by the 5 grams of fiber in this drink (about 20% of the daily recommended intake). But, there is a downside – read here about farting fiber.

3. Added vitamins and mineral (calcium). Hold on a second, with all those fruits and vegetables, how is it that the manufacturer still had to add all those nutrients?

What do you think? Is this product worthy of the “All Natural” label?

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  • http://www.consciouskitchenblog.com/ Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog

    I actually really enjoy Naked Juice and always thought of it as a much better alternative to a lot of other juice drinks out there. However, I think you are bringing light to an important topic, which is, even though these drinks are considered healthy, they aren’t perfect and need to be enjoyed in moderation. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • http://www.majid.info/ Fazal Majid

    No, it’s not all natural.

    In other news, Odwalla started adding evaporated cane juice, I.e. sugar, to its smoothies, I don’t know when.

    • Amy Christine Meyer

      Odwalla is owned by Coca-Cola, so that’s not surprising

      • http://www.majid.info/ Fazal Majid

        Yep, Coca-Cola are the kings of deceptive marketing. There’s the Minute-Maid OJ that uses the same kind of packaging as Tropicana despite being made from concentrate, the Dasani tap water that’s marketed as if it were mineral water, and the court case that went all the way to the Supreme Court with the pomegranate drink that has less than 0.3% pomegranates in it.

  • Sharon Puett

    I really don’t understand your big hang up with inulin. And there are any number of reasons that they chose chickory root from which to extract it (as opposed to using a root vegetable source). See more here http://littlechoicesmatter.com/2011/08/19/chicory-root-benefits/

  • Maryellen

    Chicory root makes me deathly ill, I had the worst cramps in my life from bars made with this ingredient. I avoid it at all costs. Thanks for sharing this post. And no it is not all natural.

  • aemish

    GMOs are the antithesis of natural. Boo, Pepsi! My daughter loves the green machine smoothie, guess we’ll just have to switch to Bolthouse Farms green goodness. They have an impressive FAQs page on their website :D

    • Amy Christine Meyer

      Bolthouse Farms is owned by Cambell’s so it’s really not any better.

      Columbia Gorge (aka CoGo) is a good option if it’s available in your area.

      • aemish

        Oh, thanks, I didn’t know that!

  • http://waldowsocial.com DJ Waldow

    Gahhhh. Just went I thought I was giving our 3-year old something healthy …

    FYI: I just posted this to FB and tagged Naked Juice in hopes they would “weigh in.” Fingers crossed but not all that hopeful it will happen

  • Vitality TV

    Yep just like Coca-Cola’s ‘Vitamin Water’ – all style, little substance. If the food/drink is made by a large multinational then 99% of the time it’s best avoided.

  • AlexM

    I have a few problems with this article. Firstly, none of the problems mentioned are artificial. Everything is still natural and therefore there isn’t an actual reason given to get rid of the label.
    Secondly, a lot of the reasons why these things are bad are mostly wrong. Its stated that “puree” really means “cups of sugar” but that’s not what a puree is. A puree is just mashed up fruit or something, and yeah there may be a lot of sugar in the purees but a lot of different kinds of fruit have tons of sugar. For instance, 1 large apple has around 20g of sugar. Next the inulin: first thing about that is that its often used as a sugar replacement as well as a source of fiber. Studies have actually shown that inulin is much better than other sugar substitutes. And while it is true that it may cause people problems, in general it doesn’t. Lastly, the added vitamins. Most people think that fruit are a really good source of vitamins and minerals, and they are, but not to the degree most people think. They add more to make sure that people get the proper amount of vitamins in a world where its becoming increasingly difficult to do that. Beside that point, since when were added vitamins and calcium a bad thing? Not to harsh your buzz people but sometimes you have to take these things with a grain of salt and not believe everything you read at first glance.

    • Beth

      this is the response from the fda on their site fda.gov about the definition of natural flavors. Technically there isn’t one, so there is loose laws about it. “magic mushrooms”, are natural, cocaine is technically natural, cow shit is natural. http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm214868.htm

  • Get Real

    noun: puree; plural noun: purees
    a smooth, creamy substance made of liquidized or crushed fruit or vegetables.

    The author of this article is an idiot. Stop looking for controversies that don’t exist.

    Also, ALL fruits have naturally occurring sugar IN THEM.

    Apples: about 19g per serving.
    Strawberries: about 5.8g per serving.
    Bananas: about 14g per serving.

    Whether you juice them, puree them, or eat them whole, you are still getting the same amount of sugar.

    Just because Inulin is present in the list of ingredients, it doesn’t indicate the sole presence of chicory root. Inulin is a natural storage carbohydrate present in more than 36,000
    species of plants, including wheat, onion, bananas, garlic, asparagus,
    sunchoke and chicory. At 5 grams of fiber, which is low considering that the daily recommended amount is 25 grams, it is entirely possibly that all the fiber comes from the fruits and not any other “added products” in this naked juice smoothie.

    • Joey

      Thanks for being critical of the article. I drink naked often and just recently began looking into some of the controversy behind how the make their juices. I’ve read a few other articles that are similar in tone- very critical and present some bias/skewed information. Although Naked isn’t perfect, it’s commentary like this that I truly appreciate. Good day!

  • Beth

    I just looked at my 15.2 fl. oz green machine bottle and 53 effin grams of sugar!!!!!!!! that equals to roughly 12-13 teaspoons of sugar in 1 effin bottle. I came online to look up the reason for this and found this article. Thank you for posting this. Looks like I’m pouring this expensive bottle of death down the drain. :(

  • JM

    First of all…what the heck natural means? It´s just a fancy and vague term used as a marketing weapon for journalist, fake-nutritionists and other fitness and welness “experts” and companies. Purees are natural: just blended fruits, no need to add sugars. If you argue that they are not natural because processed then none food you´ll eat will be natural. About juice delivering sugar to your blood system: all fruit juices have high af glycemic indexes are you take most os the fiber when peeling and they are extracted from the cell with liquid, improving their absorbtion. “Many of the nutrients present in the whole fruit are lost immediately when juiced or within a few hours, as well as most of the fiber content”, I strongly recommend you to read a bit about HPP juices vs fresh juices or “death cocktails”. Regards

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