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What's Really in Your Orange Juice?

Audrey Hunt's passion for nutrition began the day she was diagnosed with diabetes. She's a vegetarian and advocate for healthy living.


Ten Juicy Secrets You Need to Know About Your O.J.

Grab a box of tissues because this list of secrets that corporations would rather you didn't know will either make you angry, cry, or both:

  1. Fresh O.J. doesn't last for more than a couple of days. So if your container lasts longer, it just isn't fresh.
  2. Orange juice makers engineer orange juice. It is processed, with chemicals added.
  3. Oxygen is taken out along with the flavor during the processing.
  4. Flavor packs are added back in, such as orange—essence and oils to boost the flavor.
  5. Manufacturers keep this a secret from consumers to boost sales.
  6. Ethyl Butyrate is added as the product is engineered. Since when has a fresh orange ever needed to be engineered? More about this chemical in the next section.
  7. Pepsi owns Tropicana, and Coke owns Minute Maid. Both companies produce 59% of the orange juice in America.
  8. According to the citrus industry, the Food and Drug Administration does not require the contents of flavor packs to be detailed on a product's packaging.
  9. The compounds in the flavor packs are derived from orange peels.
  10. Producers do not mention the addition of flavor packs on the drinks' labels.

Orange Juice Is Good for You, or Is It?

Do you know what's in your orange juice? I thought I did. Nice, fresh ripe oranges picked right off a Florida tree, right? Sorry, but this isn't even close. The truth is that we're being lied to. The commercials and ads we see and the claims made are pure deceptions.

Don't you hate to be lied to? I do. Yet consumers are lied to every time they shop for food. For example, take the word "fresh" on food packaging. Fresh can mean that the food has been partially frozen, heat-treated, or chemically altered and stored for several weeks. And a healthy shiny apple may have been stored for six months before you decide to take it home for a nutritious snack.

But what about our favorite breakfast drink, orange juice? Certainly, this is healthy and fresh, and it says so right on the container.

I decided to find out for myself exactly how this beverage is made, and you may be as surprised as I to learn how we've been duped.


What Is Ethyl Butyrate and Why Is it Added to Orange Juice?

Processed orange juice is chemically altered by adding Ethyl butyrate. It's one of the cheapest chemicals, which accounts for its popularity among manufacturers. Under certain conditions, this chemical is also flammable. There's no way I'm going to drink anything flammable, even in small amounts. Who do these companies think they're kidding?

I found that ethyl butyrate is a colorless liquid with a pineapple-like odor. It is used in perfume, flavorings, extracts, and as a solvent. It's also used as a plasticizer for cellulose. Ethyl butyrate is often added to this juice, as most associate its odor with fresh orange juice.

Alissa Hamilton J.D., Ph.D., is a Food and Society Policy Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP); in her book "Squeezed What You Don't Know About Orange Juice," she states the following:

"The juice is also typically designed to appeal to the taste preferences of the market and will therefore contain different flavor packs or chemicals depending on where it will eventually end up. According to Hamilton, the juice created for the North American market tends to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, which is one of the most commonly used chemicals in both flavors and fragrances".

Most orange juice manufacturers include ethyl butyrate in their orange beverages. The exception is the Trader Joe's brand. The San Francisco Chronicle did a taste test in 2007 on a variety of orange juice brands. Staff writer, Carol Ness, writes: "The winner by far was the only brand that put "unpasteurized" on its label -- Trader Joe's unpasteurized, fresh-squeezed orange juice."

Cooks Illustrated sent juice samples to independent laboratories and found that while fresh-squeezed juice naturally contained about 1.19 milligrams of ethyl butyrate per liter, juice that had been commercially processed had levels high as 8.53 milligrams per liter.

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Read More From Delishably

Ethyl butyrate is also found in:

  1. Air Care Products
  2. Cleaning and Furnishing Care Products
  3. Laundry and Dishwashing Products
  4. Personal Care Products

My Choice for the Best Orange Juice

After trying six brands of orange juice I found Trader Joe's as the winner for taste plus it's chemical-free.

After trying six brands of orange juice I found Trader Joe's as the winner for taste plus it's chemical-free.

100% Orange Juice Is Artificial

When oxygen is removed from orange juice the natural flavors of the orange is also removed. Then why do manufactures remove oxygen in the first place? They do this because once the oxygen is removed the juice can be stored for up to a year without spoiling.

Then these manufactures hire flavor and fragrance companies to make the stored juice taste like the real deal again. And because the flavor packs are made from orange by-products they're not considered an ingredient and not required to be listed on the label. So even though the flavor packs are chemically altered the consumer is not notified.

Your orange juice is artificial even though it professes to be 100% real.

See how the drink is made below.

I Can't Turn my Back on the Unhealthy Truth

I can't unlearn the unhealthy truth about the food industry. I can't turn my back on it. I think about the future of our country and the children who will be our country's future. If we don't address this issue now, who will?

I called on three orange juice manufactures, which I won't mention here, to get detailed information on what exactly goes into processing orange juice. One company talked "around" the subject but avoided most of my questions.

The other two corporations refused to talk to me at all. I can only conclude that they have something to hide. To say nothing and dodge engaging in a conversation with me told me plenty.

Orange juice manufactures are not alone in their deception when it comes to processing and labeling food.

Major Brands of Orange Juice

BrandSugar gCalories 8 oz

Minute Maid Pure Squeezed No Pulp



Minute Maid Country Style



Minute Maid Heart Wise



Simply Orange Pulp Free Not From Concentrate



Simply Orange High Pulp



Tropicana With Calcium



Trop 50



Trader Joes No Pulp From Concentrate



Trader Joes With Pulp



Squeeze Your Own Fresh Orange Juice

It's easy, fast and healthy to make your own orange juice.

It's easy, fast and healthy to make your own orange juice.

How to Squeeze Orange Juice by Hand

This is a no-brainer, and I've been making my own O.J. this way since I was a child. I loved doing this back then, and I still love it today. And if you have an electric juicer—go for it!

All you need to do is:

  • Wash the skin of a few oranges.
  • Place oranges on a clean cutting board.
  • Roll oranges using the palm of your hand to soften them up.
  • Slice in half.
  • Remove seeds using a spoon.
  • Using a juicer, squeeze by hand to get the juice.
  • Pour into a glass.

I either cool the oranges before making juice or refrigerate the juice after making it for a cold, delicious taste. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2–3 days.

Fun Facts About Oranges You May Not Know

How many of these facts do you already know?

  • About 85% of all oranges are used to make orange juice.
  • An orange tree can grow to 30 feet and live for over a hundred years.
  • The first person to bring orange seeds to America was Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to America in 1493.
  • There are 600 varieties of oranges in the world.
  • When a little green appears on an orange, it will not affect the taste.
  • William Wolfskill planted the first orange tree in Los Angeles in 1841.
  • Oranges, along with orange blossoms, are a symbol of love.
  • The peelings on oranges can also be used as a slug repellent for vegetables. Just sprinkle over the tops.
  • There are typically ten segments inside of an orange.
  • The worlds leading producer of oranges is Brazil.
  • The orange is a type of berry. The berry is hesperidia.
  • The first orange trees were grown in China.

Is it Safe to Eat Orange Peels?

Whether you decide to make your orange juice, purchase it in a carton, or simply eat an orange, just keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Eating an orange will provide you with more fiber than juice. Most of the fiber is lost during the juicing process.
  • Most juices contain added sugar.
  • It's believed that fructose is a riskier form of sugar than glucose. It's because fructose increases the risk of diabetes, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease.

If you've been tossing your orange peels, you may want to hold off. The peel has more fiber than the orange. It has four times more fiber. In addition, these peels are loaded with over 60 types of flavonoids and over 170 various types of phytonutrients. If you're willing to give this a try, just grate the peel and sprinkle on veggies.

Tip: For bad breath, chew orange peels. While it's working on your breath, it's also whitening your teeth. Now, how about that?


Processed Food Can Make us Sick

In 2002, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, inflammation, and even a fatty liver. My father had suffered the loss of a leg because of his diabetes, and I promised myself no such thing would happen to me. As I talked to my doctor about controlling diabetes, she provided me with a list of foods to avoid and portion control. The list looked doable, and I let out a sigh of relief. Then she added that I was to avoid all processed foods. What? How can I do that when everything I buy is practically all processed?

Well, I did my homework and learned about food companies adding chemicals to food. I was feeding myself these chemicals. Sure, maybe in small amounts, but I knew those additives could and would harm my body in time. I wasn't about to let that happen.

I became a vegetarian, eating fresh fruits and vegetables along with some grains and occasionally salmon. Over time I lost some weight, my liver became normal, the inflammation disappeared, and I was taken off diabetic medication. Now I'm a believer.

I feel that I have a responsibility to warn others about processed foods. It's not about scaring people; it's about saying that we're smarter than this. We can build a better food system.

Tell Me What You Think.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2017 Audrey Hunt

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