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The sad truth about "fresh" orange juice

Apologies if this has been covered on this board already, but I'm posting this as an extension of a discussion on the Ontario board.

Having read the following coverage of the book "Squeezed" has made me give up my Tropicana orange and grapefruit juices and buy a juicer to make my own juice.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs...
http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/05/19/fr...

Makes me very sad (and sorta angry).

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  1. Welcome to the world of the majority of the food industry.

    It is a truly sad, sad place.

    1. I am not a regular orange juice drinker, but living in Texas when I visit the Valley I always get some fresh from the orchard juice. I usually stand there and watch them squeeze it from oranges just brought in from the trees. There is no comparison at all with the juice purchased in the grocery stores.

      1. Are we talking about the stuff in the waxed cardboard boxes from the supermarket? Do people really think think that stuff is "freshly squeezed" in any real sense? How could it be, considering it's available by the boatload, 24/365, year in and year out?

        1. Sad? Angry? I'm a bit mystified, indeed floored, that anyone thought that NFC (Tropicana) is the same as fresh squeezed straight out of the orange skin juice. What planet do such people live on? Oranges, like anything that grows in a temperate zone, have seasons. It is not possible to provide the product at a steady rate year round, with a consistent flavor, without storing some of it somehow somewhere, and blending various batches for flavor. Obviously that is done--there is no other possibility. This is not rocket science. Similarly, it is not possible to package something like juice, once out of its natural skin, and have it stay good long enough to get it to you and have you drink it up before it goes bad without pasteurizing it. Certainly fresh squeezed tastes better. But how practical would it be for everybody to go and buy fresh oranges and squeeze them to have juice. That is a very very small market. Not gonna happen on a large scale.

          NFC is the next step down on the flavor scale from fresh squeezed. Every time oj is pasteurized the flavor degrades, and that is why NFC can never be as good as fresh squeezed. But NFC juice still better than from concentrate juice such as Minute Maid, which has been much more pasteurized simply through the concentration process, and then AFAIK once again after it is reconstituted.

          If you want the absolute best oj, and have the money and time to spend and don't mind the trouble, fresh squeezed is certainly the best. But for most people that is a fantasy. NFC such as Tropicana is the next best, and good enough for the vast range of people who have lives. Even the vast minority who really really care about their food, and want fresh local everything, unless they are independently wealthy and have lots of time on their hands, are going to have to choose their food battles. For me, fresh oj is not worth the fight--there are too many other demands. NFC is fine.

          This all reminds me of people who can't understand why everyone doesn't insist on eating only fresh local tomatoes all the time, because they are indeed so much better, but oops, they are only available a short time each Summer. Reality is such a downer.

          Enjoy your juicer. Come back in a year and let us know how it all worked out.

          18 Replies
          1. re: johnb

            I'm ok with pasteurization and assumed that NFC was pasteurized. But what they do goes way beyond that. And you read the first link, you'll see that Tropicana used to freeze slabs of fresh orange juice to provide a year round source. That's ok with me -- makes sense given the cycle of growing seasons. What's NOT ok with me is keeping juice in tanks for a year, stripping out the oxygen (and thereby the flavor and god knows what else) and adding chemical "flavor packs" to make it taste like oranges again...and then claiming that this is "fresh" orange juice and making me pay a premium for it. It's a marketing and positioning issue for me -- I know when I'm buying a tomato in January that it was either grown in a hot house or shipped from thousands of miles away. "Pure premium", "not from concentrate", "fresh squeezed" implies a lot more than what we're really getting.

            So yes, I WILL enjoy my juicer, thank you very much.

            1. re: TorontoJo

              >>>"Pure premium", "not from concentrate", "fresh squeezed" implies a lot more than what we're really getting. <<<

              Boloney. I don't believe Tropicana has ever claimed the term "fresh squeezed." It certainly does not appear on any of their cartons I have examined or is claimed for their product on their website. For that matter, any orange juice, including Donald Duck canned, is squeezed from fresh oranges--the term means nothing, but again they don't use it. As to "pure premium" and "not from concentrate," Tropicana certainly can claim those terms, and they are meaningful in distinguishing NFC juice from reconstituted juice, a lower-quality product.

              Their website, as well as other readily available sources, make clear what their production process is, including storage of near-frozen juice in aseptic tanks, add-back of orange oil, and blending. If you did not know this, too bad, but your outrage and dismay is frankly misplaced. There is nothing to be outraged about. You should educate yourself before you buy things, not be "outraged" afterward. If you are claiming they misled you, then you ought to look at your own perception as much as to anything they did.

              Speaking of misleading, the article you linked engages in its own misleading remarks. She slips back and forth from talking about NFC juice and FC juice, and doesn't make the distinction clear, which purposely IMO paints NFC is a bad light. Reader beware. She tries to let on that the "flavor packets" are some type of Kool-aid chemicals, and avoids the fact that the stuff is 100% from oranges (mostly orange oil). Also, the claim that the deaeration process is somehow destroys the flavor which then has to be added back later, and implying this makes the product somehow "bad," is bunk. The juice is deaerated to make it oxygen free--aseptic storage amounts to oxygen free storage of a sterilized substance, which prevents oxydization, ie spoilage (duh). Processes like this are common--Perrier takes out the bubbles then carbonates them back in later. C'est la vie. The product still is what they claim it is, and while it doesn't taste the same as fresh squeezed (the losses are volitile compounds that are easily added back later, not nutritional elements), it still tastes reasonably good.

              If you want to drink only juice you have squeezed yourself, fine, it's a wonderful thing to drink. But spare us the indignation. NFC juice as produced is a perfectly wholesome, tasty, healthy, and convenient product. I drink lots of it, and BTW I have several juicers in the house. There is nothing wrong with it or with drinking it. If you don't understand what you are getting, look to yourself.

              And maybe you will drink fresh squeezed juice the rest of your life. Great. But my guess is most people who start down that road come back pretty quickly, and in short order are headed to the dairy case just like the rest of us.

              1. re: johnb

                This is what happens when a non-scientist with little (and I'm beeing generous) or zero food industry experience decides to write a book and carries on as some kind "expert" in that area. No, I have not read her book but I will. I have been to Troficana OJ plants and she either does not understand the processes involved or is deliberately misleading....either way not good.

                1. re: johnb

                  Tropicana doesn't use "fresh squeezed", they use "pure squeezed", which is a load of marketing hooey. How else is one going to get the juice out of an orange besides squeezing it?

                  I just have to ask, after going through these posts, is the word "squeezed" looking a little odd to anyone else?

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    Well, JK, I suppose they can reem it out. So then it would be "fresh reemed", or even "pure reemed", which is how I feel sometimes. How would "fresh reemed" look on a carton of OJ. That would be a big seller :-)

                    I haven't seen you since the last time I was over on the Southwest Board. How are things out there in PHX and LV?

                    1. re: johnb

                      It is actually "reemed" but like you said that would be too much to put it on the package.

                    2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                      Well, you could grind/pulverise the entire oranges (seeds and skin included) and get juice that way...that's what is done in Mexico...

                      1. re: Pollo

                        cuba, too. fun stuff! ;-)

                        ps john b, i'm with you and pollo on this topic. 100% pure!

                        signed, florida native

                    3. re: johnb

                      "Pure Premium" means nothing ....it's a registered trademark.
                      Tropicana Pure PremiumĀ®

                      1. re: monku

                        You are correct from a legal standpoint. It's certainly a slippery area. Anybody can say theirs is a "premium" product. The term is a generic one. But the term "premium" as applied to OJ is often used to denote juice that is made from NFC juice only, not concentrate. For example, groceries that sell both grades under their private label often refer to the more-expensive NFC juice as their "premium" selection. As such, Tropicana's use of "pure premium," to my mind anyway, meaningfully and accurately depicts their 100% NFC juice as superior to their main competitor, Minute Maid, which is made from concentrate, at least the last time I looked. Of course MM also uses the generic term "premium" on their labels, illustrating that by itself it has no legal meaning. As always, buyer beware.

                        1. re: johnb

                          It's the cola wars....
                          Pepsico owns Tropicana and Coca Cola owns Minute Maid

                          1. re: monku

                            True but they were already rivals before either was acquired by its current beverage company owner. Tropicana only came under Pepsi's wing in 1998, tho MM has been a Coke brand since 1960.

                            The ubiquity of Coke and Pepsi in the world beverage business is amazing sometimes. I recall a year or two ago looking at (to me) very strange bottles of some strange drinks from Asia in a Super H, with almost no English or even roman letters on the labels, and turning them around only to discover that were produced by some Asian subsidiary of the Coca Cola Company, Atlanta Georgia thank you very much.

                            1. re: johnb

                              tropicana used to be made from concentrate, "back in the day".....just like minute maid.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                I don't believe that's true. The predecessor company was in the concentrate business among other businesses. Its founder developed the flash pasteurization process in 1954 and started selling NFC juice under the Tropicana Pure Premium name. The name Tropicana was adopted for the company in 1957. AFAIK the Tropicana name, at least with the Pure Premium addition, was never used for anything but NFC juice. If it ever was it certainly hasn't been for over 50 years.

                                1. re: johnb

                                  I remember Tropicana being in both white and orange cartons at one time. The orange was from concentrate, and the white carton was not from concentrate.

                                  1. re: deibu

                                    Tropicana always had better OJ than MM so the comparison of the two is now warranted...just a personal opinion. To give more insight how Trop became owned by Pepsi I know for a fact that Coke was in prolonged negotiations to buy Trop. But as usuall the boys from Atlanta were too cheap and walked away from the deal and literary a few weeks later Pepsi bought Trop. That was one of those "Oh S**T" moments for Coke....

                                  2. re: johnb

                                    i grew up in florida, so i'm familiar with oj. and it wasn't as long ago as 1957 that tropicana wasn't all NFC. "pure premium" was added when they began the NFC line.

                            2. re: johnb

                              The thread motivated me to go look at the store brand OJ in my fridge, and here's what the side of the carton says:

                              "Naturally delicious Public Premium Original Style Orange Juice is freshly squeezed from 100% pure Florida oranges- never from concentrate. There are no added sugars or artificial additives. And quick-pasteurization ensures the premium freshness and sweet, refreshing flavor you crave."

                              Front of carton:

                              "Publix Premium Original Style Orange Juice without pulp is made exclusively from 100% pure Florida oranges"

                              Parse that one as you will. Spouse just firmly believes it tastes significantly better than Tropicana.

                    4. If I can ask what is probably a dumb question with an obvious answer - from a nutritional standpoint, disregarding taste or texture - does anyone know how does the frozen concentrate o.j. (that stuff in the little can) stacks up against either the NFC or reconstituted juices? I'm still going to either squeeze my own (unless I'm out), but I was just curious, thinking that it might not go through as many steps (at the supplier's end) as juice made from concentrate, or might not be frozen for quite as long, or sent to the stores sooner. Thanks.