A week and half ago I wrote an article called "Orange juice not as black and white as you think," which focused on an interview in which author Alissa Hamilton claimed that 100 percent natural orange juice is not as "fresh" as people think.
Then, last Thursday, the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) e-mailed me with a response. The relevant parts are below:
Orange juice is one of America's healthiest morning beverages and is purchased by nearly 70 percent of American households. People choose orange juice for its great taste and nutrition profile. You included Professor Popkin's statement that most fruit juices are just sugary beverages. It's important to note that shelved right alongside 100 percent orange juice are various fruit "ades," "cocktails" and "drinks" that look healthy but contain very little 100 percent fruit juice and lots of added sugar.
By comparison, one 8-ounce glass of 100 percent orange juice delivers essential vitamins and nutrients to support good health and counts as almost 25 percent of the USDA-recommended daily fruit and vegetable servings, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Research shows orange juice is more nutrient rich than many commonly consumed 100 percent fruit juices, such as apple, grape, pineapple and prune.
Orange juice is processed in strict compliance with all USDA and FDA regulations. By utilizing state-of-the-art technology, we're able to provide people across the country with a consistent supply of high quality, nutritious orange juice year round.
She agreed it was a non-denial denial. "The FDOC's statement doesn't
discredit your post or what I say... Orange juice may be 'processed in
strict compliance with all USDA and FDA regulations.' That does not change the fact that the big orange juice
companies such as Tropicana add flavor packs to their 100 percent pure premium
orange juice to restore volatile flavor providing chemicals that are
lost during processing."
In an interview with the Boston Globe, Hamilton explained these flavor packs in more detail. "They're technically made from orange-derived substances, essence
and oils. Flavor companies break down the essence and oils into
individual chemicals and recombine them. I spoke to many people in the
industry at Firmenich, different flavorists, and at Tropicana, and what
you're getting looks nothing like the original substance... I don't think the concern is so much "are these flavor packs
unhealthy?" The bigger issue is the fact that having to add flavor
packs shows the product is not as fresh and pure as marketed.
Hamilton -- whose book Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice will be released in May -- told me she never had any intentions of battling the orange juice industry. "I did not set out to write a book about the problems with OJ. In fact I
found those in the industry (including Tropicana employees) very open
and generous with their time... I do write about deceptive marketing because that happens to be a big chapter in OJ's history."
I asked Hamilton whether she still drinks orange juice. "Truth is I never drank it. I pretty much only drink water. I'd rather eat an orange. I find the juice, even if freshly squeezed, too sweet."