The Orange Juice You Bought May Not Be Fresh, and Here’s Why

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USUALLY, FOOD WAS SAVOURED. Today, however, it appears that food is something that should be avoided, at least in Britain. In the previous six months, 20 individuals have passed away after consuming beef that was tainted with Escherichia coli. Initially, people were killed by Salmonella in eggs, then Listeria in cheese, and finally, Listeria in eggs.

And these spooky tales are only the beginning. The Communicable Diseases Surveillance Centre of the government, located in North London, reported a fourfold increase in food poisoning reports in England and Wales over the previous 15 years, amounting to almost 80 000 cases annually.

Politicians are putting pressure on farmers and abattoir owners to clean up their act in the face of this bacterial onslaught. However, scientists have been working behind the scenes to discover fresh strategies for destroying toxins in food before it reaches the stores. They have created a weapon that eliminates bacteria without the use of chemicals or heat while still preserving the colour, flavour, and nutritional content of food as intended by nature.

The tool is pressure, and not a little bit more pressure at that. Food is being subjected to pressures up to 9000 times those of the atmosphere by researchers. By applying pressure from all angles, the majority of meals very minimally compress, with only a handful converting into puréed mush. In the hopes that this type of preservation could eventually help to stop the flood of food illness, the technology is currently being tested on a variety of foodstuffs, including fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy products, and grains.

Over the past few months, Americans have consumed more orange juice than usual in an effort to strengthen their protection against the COVID-19 pandemic. But you might not be doing yourself any favours if you’re guzzling huge amounts of OJ from a bottle without first reading the label. The commercial orange juice bottles that you can buy on the shelves of your local supermarket may be deceptive and not as nutritious as you might expect.

Freshly squeezed orange juice: how healthy is it?

According to Su-Nui Escobar, M.S., RDN, LDN, a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, freshly squeezed orange juice in its purest form—i.e., squeezed straight from an orange—offers numerous nutritional advantages. It contains significant amounts of potassium, a vital element for heart health, as well as folate and vitamin C. According to Escobar, studies have revealed that orange juice includes phytochemicals, or plant substances with possible anti-disease qualities, like flavonoids and carotenoids. According to Escobar, orange juice’s strong vitamin C content can also aid in the body’s natural collagen production and better iron absorption from plant-based diets like lentils and whole grains.

It seems very clear that we should all be drinking our daily OJ, don’t you think? Wait a minute. If you’re drinking store-bought orange juice, there are a few things to know about the juice-making process that can make all the difference in terms of nutrition, so it’s vital to read the label before include it in your regular diet.

What exactly “fresh squeezed” refers to

According to Natalie Sexton, vice president of marketing for Natalie’s Orchard Island Juice, a family-run business with headquarters in Fort Pierce, Florida, the phrase “squeezed promo code” is protected by the FDA and denotes that the juice has not undergone any sort of processing. Therefore, it is illegal to label orange juice as “fresh squeezed” if it has undergone any kind of processing, including pasteurisation or HPP (more on that below).

However, large corporations frequently employ comparable but deceptive language. Many manufacturers have appropriated the phrase and selected certain terms to communicate the idea of “fresh squeezed” without really identifying the product as such, according to Sexton. For instance, labels might read “pressed from oranges,” “squeezed from Florida sunshine,” or even “squeezed fresh.”

The purpose and method of processing commercial orange juice

Nowadays, most juice marketed in the US is pasteurised, or heated to a high temperature to destroy any dangerous microorganisms. Natalie’s uses what they refer to as “gourmet pasteurisation,” which entails pasteurising food for the shortest amount of time at the lowest temperature possible—roughly eight seconds at 180 degrees. Salmonella and E. coli are eliminated, but living enzymes are still present in the juice, according to Sexton. Many mass-produced brands sterilise the juice using pressure rather than heat using a procedure known as high-pressure processing (HPP), which sterilises the juice with pressure rather than heat for minutes at temperatures as high as 200 degrees. It is also referred to as cold-pressing.

These techniques help preserve orange juice while also extending its shelf life. According to Sexton, the more processing done, the longer the shelf life; as a result, several well-known products have an unopened expiration date that is two to three months away. On the other hand, Sexton claims that due to the active enzymes, if you store a somewhat unprocessed juice for 28 days, like Natalie’s, “it’s going to explode.” For large businesses, shelf life is important because they don’t want their products to “shrink,” or go bad before a store can sell them. According to Sexton, this is why they add other ingredients, such citric acid, to further increase the shelf life.

How healthy is commercial orange juice to consume?

Orange juice’s nutrients isn’t significantly impacted by processing as much as you might think. Studies show that juices prepared with HPP largely maintain their nutritional content, especially vitamin C. According to Escobar, pasteurisation somewhat reduces the amount of vitamin C and folate in orange juice, but because these vitamins are so highly concentrated in OJ, it has little effect on the juice’s nutritional value. The modest loss of nutrients is obviously outweighed by the safety advantages of pasteurising orange juice, the author continues.

The fact that many processed orange drinks contain additional substances in addition to orange juice is the most worrisome issue. Some products may be advertised as having extra calcium, for instance, but actually contain a dozen or more components to provide you with that mineral. (At that time, Sexton advises, “Go drink some milk.”) When the word “concentrate” appears in the ingredient list, it signifies water has been added. According to her, the brands that advertise having 50% fewer calories are the largest fraud because they are just diluted with water by half (meaning half the nutrients, as well).

In order to partially compensate for the flavour that is lost during pasteurisation, some producers include flavourings known as “flavour packs,” which are produced from substances in orange peel and pulp. Although theoretically any product marketed as “orange juice” must adhere to the FDA’s definition of identity for that substance, which excludes flavour packs as an ingredient, products marketed as “orange drink” or something similar may be permitted to contain flavour packs.

Last but not least, purchasing orange juice with the pulp squeezed out (for example, to create mimosas) lessens the nutritional value. According to Escobar, orange pulp is high in fibre and helps to balance blood sugar, lower bad cholesterol, and regulate digestion. Even if there is no sugar added, she warns that orange juice without pulp lacks this source of fibre and may produce a sharp rise in blood sugar.

Observations to make when purchasing orange juice

It depends on whether you want something fresh squeezed, nutrient-rich, or a certain consistency. The safest method to obtain pure, freshly squeezed juice, which is what Escobar favours and advises, is to prepare it yourself. (Avoid the “fresh squeezed” variety sold at grocery shops; Sexton advises that it’s either not pasteurised or that they are simply mislabeling bottled juice that has been used instead.)

The FDA advises carefully washing and drying the oranges to prevent bacteria on the surface before washing and drying them again and cutting away any broken or bruised sections before slicing into them to make juice. To add more nutrients, you may also combine orange juice with veggies like tomatoes and carrots, advises Escobar.

Check the orange juice label to determine where the oranges are coming from if you want a consistent flavour. To ensure consistency in every bottle, commercial brands will utilise a precise combination of oranges from Florida, California, Mexico, etc.; smaller businesses, like Natalie’s, will offer orange juice that changes in flavour based on where oranges are in season. Check the expiration date last. According to Escobar, bottled OJ should only have a 40-day shelf life to show minimum processing.

Remember that 100% pure, freshly squeezed juice will have the most nutrients and is your best bet for drinking orange juice for health reasons. Sexton claims that nutritional content is still retained when orange juice is processed, but it will never be identical to the fruit’s pure form.

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