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The Truth About Commercial Orange Juice

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Have you ever wondered why every single glass of Tropicana always taste the same no matter where or when you buy it? How does Tropicana have one consistent trademark flavor, yet Florida’s Natural has another? It turns out, there’s a secret ingredient in your orange juice!

In your kitchen, oranges + squeezing equals juice. But in the big time factories, there is an important stage in between that is an open secret in the OJ industry.

Alissa Hamilton from civileats.com is the author of the book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice. According to her article,

“After the oranges are squeezed, the juice is stored in giant holding tanks and the oxygen is removed. That essentially allows the liquid to keep (for up to a year) without spoiling– but that liquid that we think of as orange juice tastes nothing like the Tropicana OJ that comes out of the carton.”

It’s actually quite tasteless! So to bring the flavor back in, the company adds “flavor packs.”

“When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor.”

Mexicans and Brazilians have a different palate, so they get a flavor pack engineered with the terpene valencine. The formulas vary to give a brand’s trademark taste. “If you’re discerning,” she says, “you may have noticed Minute Maid has a candy like orange flavor. That’s largely due to the flavor pack Coca-Cola has chosen for it.”

Tropicana recently launched a $35 million marketing campaign about being natural. Their commercials showcase lovely images of ripe oranges being picked from trees and squeezed at the source. This is obviously a far cry from the truth, but the facade should come as no surprise. Tropicana is owned by Pepsi. Simply Natural and Minute Maid are owned by Coke. This is the illusion of choice we’re given by these huge corporations.

Take back the juice!

Don’t buy juice in a box. Aside from the oxygen stripping and flavor packs, boxed juice is pasteurized, which denatures the fruit’s live enzymes and greatly impacts the vitamin/mineral content.

My ultimate advice is to eat whole organic oranges so that you can get all the benefits that come with this incredible fruit, including the fiber and pectin. If you just want the juice on a hot day, squeeze it yourself. You can get an inexpensive hand squeezer for around $10, an electrical citrus juicer for $25, or a wide range heavy duty juicer that can juice all types of fruits and vegetables for $99.

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3 Comments

  1. janice says:

    Now I know. I never did think that OJ from a box could possibly be fresh squeezed OJ without any “help”. Thanks Organic Olivia. I will keep squeezing my own OJ and even Grapefruit juice!

  2. Cassie says:

    Hate orange juice so much! I don’t even like citrus fruits to begin with LOL!

  3. Alex says:

    What about organic orange juice? Same process?

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