The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What's In My Orange Juice?

ElPanadero's picture

What's In My Orange Juice?

We've had some good discussions in other threads that at times branch out into other interesting topics such as GM foods, food processing techniques and so on.  Since this is a website devoted in part to fresh wholesome breads I make the assumption that many posters here are conscious about their food choices and make extra time to research and understand more fully what they are eating and drinking.  This kind of research can be
long and arduous at times but I thought that whilst we all sitting patiently for our bulk fermentations and overnight retards we might run a few threads in this "Off Topic" section of the forum to discuss some of these foody issues to share what we know.  I therefore invite the creation of such threads and people's open views on the issues raised, that we might all benefit from our collective knowledge and practical experience.

For this thread I bring up the topic of Orange Juice and the labelling laws relating to it.

We're all familiar with different types of O.J in our supermarkets and stores and we are somewhat used to the varying terminology used on the packaging such as :

"Pure" juice,  Freshly Squeezed Juice,  Juice from concentrate,  juice not from concentrate and so on.

It turns out that people's perceptions and preconceived notions about what those terms actually mean is pretty poor and is not helped much by the labelling laws.  I found a research report on this which outlines how people interpreted the terms which, though old (2002), is still useful in highlighting the issues:

One of the most startling things I discovered in relation to O.J,  was that the product can be up to a year old.  I guess when one thinks through the fact that oranges are seasonal and yet we have O.J sold every day and it always tastes exactly the same, something in our heads ought to be ringing questioning bells.

It turns out that in the processing of O.J, the manufacturers often put the juice in large asceptic containers and pump out all of the oxygen and can then leave it there for up to a year.  The removal of the oxygen unfortunately strips the product of it's orange taste and thus before it can be sold, they add special "flavour packs" into it to restore an orangey taste.   After reading about these packs I find some sources refer to them as chemicals (rightly or wrongly) and that they are derived from the orange peels and thus are essences and oils and the like.  As such, being technically part of the orange, our good friends the FDA do NOT require these flavour pack additions to be recorded separately on the product labels !  Thus when you pick up that carton of O.J. which might say "not from concentrate" thinking it must in some way therefore be fresh and recent and somehow better than "from concentrate" juice, it could in fact be up to a year old already, have been stripped of its natural orange flavour (through removal of oxygen) and had an artificial "orangey" flavour put back into it via these flavour packs.

References to flavour packs can be found here:   (search in here for flavour packs)

It turns out that different countries have different expectations of what their O.J. ought to taste like and so there are differently created flavour packs for each and I've read in some places that consultants from perfume manufacturers are sometimes brought in to help with this.

A couple of issues arise out of all of this for me personally which are:

1.  If the FDA doesn't require flavour packs and their ingredients to be listed on the label, on the basis they are derived from oranges, then how come the main ingredient listed is orange juice, why isn't the entire product sold as "a drink derived from oranges"?  Why does the juice element from the orange get listed and the other elements from the orange not get listed?  There doesn't seem to be much consistency here imo.

2.  Exactly what IS in these flavour packs and are they either nutritional and / or are they healthy or unhealthy?
I ask this because whilst we might deem O.J. itself to be healthy, drinking massive quantities of it isn't.  It takes many oranges to make a glass of juice yet we would not typically sit there and eat that many oranges in one sitting.  Same for apples and apple juice.  If we ate lots of apples our intake of sugars woud be high and the state of our teeth probably poor.   Do these flavour packs contain essences and oils and other parts of oranges in very large quantities in order to recreate that orangey flavour?  With no labelling requirements in place for them, it seems impossible for the consumer to know.  What I do surmise from these packs is that they are concocted recipes, (like the secret Coca Cola formula) and as such are entirely unnatural.  They may be made from natural things, but the final flavour pack is not something found in nature.

If you're wondering whether the brand of O.J. that you drink does or does not have flavour packs, then the link below may help.  This is someone's attempt to assemble a list having contacted the manufacturers and asked them.  The results are far from clear though as typically the responses from manufacturers were unclear in many cases:

In the end, despite learning about flavour packs, and terminology, I personally reach a simple conclusion

If I want some orange juice . . . . go eat an orange!


Yerffej's picture

I came to that same conclusion for the same reasons.  Orange juice comes from oranges not a carton.


suave's picture

But look, you can write something like this about any other product.  Red wine has mega purple, apples are waxed, water is fluorinated, flour is bleached, chicken are injected.  Oh, and oranges are dyed.  One can worry self to death thinking about it.  Why not focus on positives?  We've found a way around phylloxera, trichinosis is under control, there's no swill milk to be found, and with any luck genetic engineering will one day bring back American chestnut.

Yerffej's picture

My apples come from a tree and nobody waxes them.  My water is not fluoridated and I can assure you it is most definitely not "fluorinated".  My chickens have received no injections unless a fellow chicken was practicing medicine without a license.  I do not use bleached flour.  Yes cheap wine has mega purple but I do not know if that was in use when I was in high school.  With regard to the original subject, The USDA organic certification process does not allow food dyes and so your oranges may be dyed, mine are not. 

Good luck with your chestnuts.

Atropine's picture

But not everyone can have that sort of life all the time :)  Land, resources, finances, time constraints all serve to keep us from having the perfect agrarian life :)  Sometimes (many times) there are compromises :)
It is great that you have access to all these wonderful things!  What a wonderful situation! 

However, for the rest of us who are not quite there, we can do much with just taking little steps and relaxing about the rest until we can take the next little step :)

Atropine's picture

While there is a lot of ick that we avoid or are in the process of being sufficient enough to avoid, I am FIRMLY convinced that the stress we get, little or large, every day, worrying about what is in our food, is a double whammy of bad health. 

First of all, the worry itself, even if it is low grade, causes our bodies to release adrenaline and cortisol, among others.  These wreak their own havoc.

Then, the time that we worried, we did not encourage the happy hormones that strengthen the heart and health such as oxytocin and prolactin. 

So not only do we not get what we could have gotten, we substituted it with what we need less of :)

Now, that having been said, I am NOT advocating a laissez faire, everything is fine, embrace the GMO's type of attitude, but rather avoiding (and dismissing without a thought) what we can, and steeling our bodies against the damage we cannot avoid by encouraging a peaceful and joyful life through as much prayer and love and enjoyment of good things and hard work and fresh air and some sunshine as we can.

We are all going to die some day and even with all these contaminants (which I want out of my stuff as much as anyone!), we are living longer and better.  Our bodies are amazing filters, and we can do even better by easing our stress than we can by treating each food like a potential poison.

Just my .02, YMMV.  I just know how much healthier I became when I stopped stressing and started more prayer and enjoyment of this amazing life :)


Atropine's picture

Sorry, been a while since I used these forums

My "I agree with you" post was for suave; my "that's wonderful" post was for Jeff.

Breadbabe's picture

This kind of discussion is always on my mind - I am completely befuddled by the newer (post 1945) processes that our food is subjected to. Many additives in over-processed bread are there to combat the problem of mass machinery. Its beaten up too fast, forced to rise too fast, and must have microbe killers included so those machines can keep moving even tho its covered in old dough. And not to mention that the process itself changes the cell structure to the point that our bodies don't recognize it as food and we keep eating, and eating - looking for nutrients.

When people wonder why I started my whole grain bread business, this discussion is what I try to distill into a few non-threatening sound bites.

But to move this into a slightly different place, I discovered at our last move to a 50's house and kitchen was perfect for us. No pantry! We buy what we eat and eat what we buy. Yes, I have some colder areas for bulk grains, that's about it.

I tried roasting chestnuts last year. total fail. Not really interested in having a comeback. ;-)

dabrownman's picture

OJ in my freezer right now. No worries.  I grow the oranges myself and freeze the juice when I make arancello and strip off the skins for soaking on grain alcohol - no worries.  This juice dosn't have all the food preservatives that would make it better able to handle a year under zero F - even though the juice is half orange and half Minneola which makes it very special and tasty indeed..  Here in American we get fresh citrus year round from all over the world so when it is winter here we get oranges from Mexico - somewhere the oranges, and everything else, are ripe.

It just costs a lot of money to buy fresh oranges out of season.  Rich people can afford the best of anything all the time and if you live in the UK you rae rich, but poor people need year old frozen orange juice that is very cheap - so they don't get scurvy and die a horrible death like British sailors used to all the time. No one wants poor people to get scurvy. do they?  Of course not.

I say no orange comes with a label on it and that is fine by me.  You are rich can can afford fresh oranges so buy them or forget the labels on orange juice that never ever killed or harmed anyone - not ever.

Life is too short to worry about things that aren't a problem.