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Stripped-juice tease.

The first fruit juice listed on the label of After the Fall's Georgia Peach 100% Fruit Juice Blend isn't peach.

Raspberries aren't the first fruit ingredient listed in Polaner's Raspberry All Fruit Spreadable Fruit, either. You won't find sour cherry Sparkler. And apple isn't first in Frookie's Fat Free Apple Spice Cookies.

Nope. It's "grape juice concentrate."

Some--nobody knows how much--of the "grape" (and "pear" and "apple") juice concentrate in foods like juices, spreads, and cookies is little more than sugar water. It's been "stripped" of the flavor, color, and nutrients that were in the fruit.

As a result, unsuspecting shoppers end up paying premium prices for "100% fruit juice" or "fruit juice sweetened" or "no sugar added" foods that are anything but.

HOW SWEET IT IS

"Sugar is a great ingredient," says Rich Worth, who is president of the cookie maker R.W Frookies. "It's white, tasteless, and performs the same every time."

But sugar's empty calories and unsavory reputation aren't so great so many consumers, who refuse to buy foods that contain it. Enter fruit juice concentrate.

Fruits contain fructose, glucose, sucrose, and other sugars. So if you crush the fruit and the remove most of the water, you end up with a sweetener that contains many of the nutrients that were in the fruit to begin with.

But fruit juice concentrate isn't uniform. A Rome apple, for example, tastes different from a red delicious. Concentrate has another unfortunate characteristic: It tastes like the fruit from which it came. And that can be a problem for companies looking for a "natural" sweetener.

"Real fruit juice concentrate is a pain in the butt," says Frookies' Rich Worth. But, he adds, he uses it to sweeten his cookies. Most other companies that make "fruit-juice sweetened" or "100% fruit juice" products told us the same.

Some of the are lying.

LIFE ALONG THE STRIP

"Its lack of color and flavor makes it the ideal blending ingredient where no grape flavor or color is desired, but when the application requires an all-natural sweetener."

That's the way Daystar International describes its "deionized white grape juice concentrate," which "has been stripped of most acids and minerals characteristic of grape juice, leaving a totally clear concentrate that is practically void of flavor and color."

The laboratory director for a concentrate maker, who asked not to be identified, explained that juices are typically "stripped" by passing them through two "ion-exchange" columns.

In one column the juice's positively-charged minerals are replaced with hydrogen (H) atoms. In the other column the negatively-charged acides (and flavor and color compounds) are replaced with molecules of oxygen and hydrogen bound together (OH). The H's then combine with the OH's to form (you guessed it) [H.sub.2.O].

"It's an expensive way to make sugar water," said the lab director. But to many food companies it's worth the extra cost, since it allows them to label their products "100% juice" or "no sugar added."

None of the "strippers" would tell us which companies use their products, and many companies that use frit juice concentrate either didn't return our calls or refused to say much of anything when they did. Among them: After the Fall, Apple & Eve, Dole, Tree Top, and Tropicana.

HIDE AND SEEK

"There is no methodology to detect modified juices in foods," explains Joe Speroni, director of food research at Ocean Spray. "And if you can't detect it, you can't say who is and who isn't doing it."

Jim Tillotson, director of the Food Policy Institute at Tufts University, offers thi tip: "In the supermarket, if I saw white grape, apple, or pear juice concentrate, I'd be suspicious."

FDA TAKES

ON THE

STRIPPERS

"The whole industry is stonewalling on this," says Raymond Newberry of the FDA. "They won't admit anything."

The FDA has proposed that companies not be allowed to include stripped juice when they add up the percentage of juice in their products. The fruit juice industry says it supports the FDA's proposal...sort of.

"We do feel, however, that there is a difference between an 'adjusted' juice and a 'stripped' juice," says David Kerr of the National Juice Products Association. Kerr explained that a company might "adjust the pear to downplay its flavor" when adding it to "delicate" raspberry juice.

Yet the FDA has proposed that if a juice has been adjusted to the point where it is no longer recognizable, it can't be included in calculating the juice content of a food.

If you believe that using stripped juices without identifying them is deceptive, please write to the FDA or fill out the coupon below. Mail it to: FDA, Dockets Management Branch, Docket No. 80N-0140, 12420 Parklawn Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20857.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:ingredients in fruit juice are not what's on the labels
Author:Schmidt, Stephen
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Words:785
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