Consumers are set to be horrified when they see what harmful substances they have been feeding their kids in their fruit juices, when producers list all ingredients on their labels, as required by the new Consumer Protection Act, which stipulates accurate product labeling that came into effect this month.
This is according to SurePure marketing executive, Steve Miller, who says that when consumers start to understand how much preservatives are in the juices they buy, or how little nutrient value is left after the ultra-high levels of heat their juice has been subjected to, they are going to be shocked and producers brands are going to suffer as a result.
“Consumers will be able to read the labels on their juices and see exactly what kind of processed beverage concoction is masquerading as ‘pure fruit juice’ as the way producers process, pad and preserve their products will be a little more evident in the future and the ugly truth revealed,” he says.
“If producers follow the letter of the new law, consumers will know exactly what ingredients are in the beverage, and what little nutritional value they actually contain. Consumers will be horrified at the pervasiveness of sugar, colourants, flavourants and especially preservatives most juices they feed to their families contain.”
Since the act does not stipulate that ‘all ingredients need to be listed’ manufacturers will still be able to keep the consumers in the dark regarding certain ingredients in fruit juices.
Miller warns that while producers will in theory, have to be totally truthful as to what ingredients, additives and preservatives their juices contain, they are still allowed not to list certain preservatives, pimaricin being an example, if they are added at under 10ppm.
“Nor will many consumers understand the industry fudging that goes on when it comes to how much actual fruit juice is in the beverage, e.g. the muddle that is NFC, nectars Vs juices, etc. will remain totally opaque,” he adds.
Miller cites the example of certain ‘flavour houses’ who are renaming chemical flavourants as ‘red apple flavour’ for instance, when in fact the juice contains no apple.
Miller says that the main problem is that ingredients need to be listed in order of weight, volume or prevalence so water, sugar and so on will be listed. “But, we all know that some of the most dangerous additives to fruit juice, like preservatives, are added in relatively tiny amounts, so are very hard to analyse and so may slip through the cracks.”
He stresses that it is not just ingredients that need policing, but its processes and practices.
“Boiling juice just isn’t good for the natural nutrients, enzymes etc. in juice but the consumer doesn’t know that, and big business isn’t going to tell them and this legislation does not force them to talk about it,” says Miller.
“And, obviously if the juice has been heat-treated, especially UHT treated, the goodness is basically boiled out of the juice and all you’re left with is flavoured sugar water. Whether consumers are aware of this or not is also debatable.”
With regard to which ingredients commonly found in fruit juices are harmful to people and kids, Miller says that too much sugar, too many preservatives and any heat-treatment are the things most mums should be worried about.
“Sugar is a no-brainer – its link to obesity and health problems like diabetes are well-documented,” he explains. “However, preservatives are also problematic and increasingly linked to allergies and respiratory ailments in children and adults alike. And heat just simply destroys most of the juice’s nutrients, leaving you with coloured and flavoured sugar-water, which is NOT what most mums think they’re giving their kids.”
And finally, Miller says that deciphering the labels will still require intelligence, education and dedication and will leave the most vulnerable consumers (rural, illiterate and impoverished consumers who think they’re doing good by giving their kids juice) at real risk of exploitation.
Miller says big brands and major retailers should ideally allow for an independent ingredient and nutritional audit of their juices and explain to consumers how these beverages are marketed and sold as ‘pure fruit juice.’
He says that they should also look at shifting to new technology. The FDA recently approved the commercial use of ultra violet light for the liquid purification of fruit juices as an approved technology alternative to pasteurisation, to remove, reduce or inactivate pathogenic organisms that might prove harmful to humans if ingested.
SurePure holds the worldwide patent for the only known commercial ultraviolet system in the world capable of treating turbid liquids and eliminates the need for heat and preservatives. “It basically allows you to have juice with the natural goodness of the fruit, not some sugared cocktail concocted in a laboratory,” explains Miller.
He points out that the major benefits for manufacturers of fruit juices utilising photopurification technology include less chemical intervention with complete food safety resulting in a healthier, tastier, safe juice. “It is perfectly placed to overcome the growing concerns consumers have with the addition of artificial preservatives to juices,” he adds.