Two weeks ago, we published “Say it Ain’t So, O.J.!” which revealed important information consumers should know before buying processed orange juice. Two days after publishing that post, the Florida Department of Citrus contacted me via email with the subject heading, “Orange Juice Facts”.
The PR director was respectful and simply wanted to communicate their side of the story. She offered her phone number and email in case I wanted to discuss it with her in more detail.
I replied the next day and suggested she leave a comment on the post to get a conversation going with Live Lighter readers. I also requested an interview.
As of today, they have not posted a comment nor have they responded to my email. So in attempts to remain objective and on behalf the Florida Department of Citrus, here is the main content from their email:
Orange juice is one of the healthiest morning beverages. In fact, an 8-ounce glass of 100 percent orange juice delivers essential vitamins and nutrients to support good health and is also more nutrient dense than many commonly consumed 100 percent fruit juices, such as apple, grape, pineapple and prune. By law, 100% orange juice is made only from oranges with no added sugars or preservatives.
Approximately 68 percent of Canadian orange juice comes from the United States. By utilizing state-of-the-art technology, Florida is able to provide a consistent supply of high quality orange juice year round. For more than 100 years orange juice has been processed through pasteurization to ensure food safety, which is in strict compliance with all USDA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations. When oranges are processed, natural components such as orange aroma, 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.
Please visit www.OrangeJuiceFacts.com for more information about orange juice.
Since it doesn’t look like I’ll get an interview, I thought I’d share my questions with you and see if you have some of your own to add:
- Is “not from concentrate” (a.k.a. pasteurized) orange juice stored in million-gallon aseptic storage tanks to ensure a year-round supply?
- Is a process called de-aeration used by most citrus manufacturers? Alissa Hamilton, author of Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, says this process strips oxygen from the juice, along with flavour-providing chemicals, so it doesn’t oxidize in the tanks.
- Does extracting the “natural components” from orange juice alter their molecular structures in any way?
- Are fabricated flavour packs added to processed orange juice after pasteurization so that it tastes like orange juice again? Ms. Hamilton explains in her Toronto Star interview that these “flavour packs are derived from the orange essence and oils that are lost from orange juice during processing. Flavour houses break down these essence and oils into their constituent chemicals and then reassemble the chemicals into formulations that resemble nothing found in nature.”
- If yes to #4: Do those flavour packs contain especially high concentrations of ethyl butyrate? A quick internet search revealed that ethyl butyrate is found in cigarettes and EnvironmentalChemistry.com lists it as a `hazardous material’.
- How can processed orange juice last longer than fresh-squeezed without preservatives? Fresh-squeezed orange juice expires after only 3 days. Some orange juices have a 60+ day shelf life!
- Would you share with us any nutritional data you have comparing fresh-squeezed orange juice to processed?
- If it wasn’t state regulated, would the Florida Department of Citrus use pasteurization? Some people question whether the process is a health risk or a safety benefit (here’s a great article that considers both sides). Those against pasteurization say it kills beneficial bacteria that aid digestion, as well as the harmful bacteria, along with a large portion of the nutrients, enzymes, antibodies and hormones. Those for pasteurization, like the CDC, believe it effectively prevents outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.
Please share your opinions and any questions you have for the orange juice industry in the comment section below!