FJA

Fruit Juice (no added sugar) and Fruit Drinks

Fruit juice contains no added sugar or preservatives. Juice drinks, however, contain less fruit, and often have other ingredients added such as water, flavours and sweeteners. In both cases, the exact amount of each is printed on the label above the nutrition facts panel. Fruit juices may have preservatives added, however if present, packaging will then need to be properly labelled so that consumers know of the presence. While the amount of vitamins or health benefits may vary depending on the beverage, Fruit juice and juice drinks all can be enjoyed for their good taste and refreshment. The Food Standards Code allows bottlers to add up to 4% sugar to fruit juice in order to ensure consistency in taste and sweetness even with seasonal variations in the natural sugar levels of fruit. However, when sugar is added, the juice cannot and will not, be labelled as 100% juice. Similarly, juice that has added preservatives cannot be labelled as 100% juice.

Water-based beverages that are made with added fruit juice may be still or carbonated. These drinks may be labelled as “fruit drinks”. The Food Standards Code specifies that a minimum fruit amount of fruit must be present before a manufacturer may call the product a fruit drink. The Food Standards Code specifies that fruit drinks must contain no less than 50 mL/L of fruit, except in the case of passionfruit drink which must contain no less than 35 mL/L of passionfruit.

Juice in a balanced diet

The producers, marketers, bottlers, and distributors of 100 percent juice and juice drink beverages provide products that offer more than simple refreshment. Many of these juice products also deliver vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Including a glass of fruit juice each day, as part of a healthy and varied diet, is a great tasting way to improve intake of important nutrients which are vital for wellbeing. Each glass of 100% Juice is a powerhouse of anti-oxidants, essential minerals, vitamins, and phyto-nutrients that can provide long term benefits for your health. Orange juice, for example, is a naturally good source of potassium, essential for the functioning of our nerves and helping reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Drinking your juice with meals boosts the absorption of important minerals like iron. Simply having a glass of orange juice with your breakfast cereal will boost the amount of iron your body absorbs during that meal.

Citrus juices may protect against common chronic diseases such as cancer, degenerative eye disease, and cognitive conditions [2].

Concentrate versus Freshly Squeezed

Consumers like to have access to fruit juice all year. Unfortunately, fruit is seasonal and is best picked at a particular time. To overcome this dilemma growers wait for the best opportunity to pick their fruit and send it to processors where it is squeezed. The juice is then concentrated and stored until it is needed. Concentrating the juice allows it to be kept at extremely low temperatures so the juice can be kept for much longer. It also enables it to be transported over long distances while minimizing damage to the juice. Concentrating a juice just means removing some of the water from the juice. To use the concentrate again the same amount of water is added back to bring the juice up to the same concentration as fresh fruit juice.

An alternative to using juice concentrate is to use whole juice, similar to the juice you would get if you squeezed an orange. This juice is typically called “Not From Concentrate” or “NFC”. This juice retains a number of properties that are lost when juice is concentrated. However, because of the higher storage and shipping costs associated with NFC the finished product is often more expensive than those made from concentrated juice. A third option is to bottle the juice immediately after it has been squeezed from the fruit. To do this requires shipping whole fruit to the bottling plant. Due to the seasonal nature of fruit and the distances from the orchards to the customer this option, “freshly squeezed” is the most expensive and most susceptible to seasonal fluctuations. You may not be able to make a product that relies solely on freshly squeezed juice during a drought or after severe floods for example.

Oranges and other fruits are squeezed using machines much like that found in home juicers. This juice is then ‘condensed’ by removal of water using heat. The created concentrate is transported to processing plants factories around Australia where the water is added back in to the concentrate. This process is called reconstitution. The primary reason for using reconstituted juice is economic, and allows juice producers to reduce ease transportation costs, and to ensure availability all year round as the concentrate is easier to store for longer periods.

Juice is transported around Australia and indeed the world in a concentrated form (two thirds of the water has been removed). The reason for this is that it is cheaper to expensive to transport this smaller extra volume which in turn helps keep the prices to consumers affordable. The water from the juice is extracted by evaporation, but the concentrated juice retains all its nutritional characteristics except for the fact that it loses some of its Vitamin C in the process. Reconstituted juice is simply this concentrated juice with the same amount of water added back as was originally evaporated off. You would have noticed in the ingredient labelling of most brands containing reconstituted juice that the company has added Vitamin C to more than compensate for that lost during the evaporation process. No sugar is added or removed during the concentration process.

Preservatives

Some fruit juices or juice drinks may contain preservatives and these are clearly stated in the ingredients list on the back of the label. However, any juice labelled 100% juice will not contain any preservative. Preservatives are needed to maintain product quality for the required shelf-life so that juice can be made available conveniently. Many preservatives can be found naturally in raw foods, such as citric acid (in oranges and lemons) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Importation

Whenever possible there is a strong commitment desire for all Australian juice producers to sourcing local ingredients from within local growers here in Australia. Unfortunately for many types of fruits, local supply isn’t able to meet demand from the juice industry and as such, imported ingredients are used to ensure a continual supply of great tasting product. Most of the time imported ingredients are blended with locally sourced ingredients.

Regulations

The Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSC) sets mandatory requirements for the fruit juices. These standards present to ensure that consumers can have every assurance in the safety and quality of the juice they purchase. The FSC sets limits for additives, when they are used, ensuring that the product is not contaminated by pesticides or any other pollutant. Labelling requirements also ensure that the consumer can purchase the juice of their choice, being confident that the container clearly states the ingredients and whether the juice is freshly squeezed or made from concentrate. All beverages produced by members of the Australian Beverages Council must comply with the strict regulations set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

References:

1. Landon, S., (2011) Fruit juice in the diet of Australian children, Food Australia;
2. Baghurst, K I. 2003 The Health Effects of Citrus Fruits. Adelaide, CSIRO