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What's Really in Your Orange Juice?

Updated on July 18, 2017
vocalcoach profile image

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


Drink Up. Orange Juice is Good For You. Or is It?

Do you know exactly 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 deception.

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 even other fruit like 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.

The Word "Natural" is Not Regulated by the FDA

Beware of marketing words to sell manufacture's products. Look beyond the fancy claims delivered on the front of the carton.
Beware of marketing words to sell manufacture's products. Look beyond the fancy claims delivered on the front of the carton. | Source

The word "natural" found on orange juice cartons means nothing about nutritional value or ingredients. Food manufactures do not want you to know this.

Ten Real 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 is engineered by orange juice makers. This means it is processed and chemicals are 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. This is kept as a secret from consumers in order to boost sales.
  6. Ethyl butyrate is added as the product is engineered. Since when has a fresh orange ever needed to be engineered? Ethyl butyrate is a flammable liquid. More about this chemical in the next section.
  7. Pepsi owns Tropicana and Coke owns Minute Maid to 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.

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 manufactures. Under certain conditions this chemical is also inflammable. There's no way I'm going to drink anything inflammable even in small amounts which are claimed to be safe. Who do these companies think they're kidding?

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

Alissa Hamilton J.D, PhD, 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 as high as 8.53 milligrams per liter.

Ethyl butyrate is also used 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. | Source

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 draw the conclusion 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

Sugar g
Calories 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. | Source

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. This gives you a nice 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 be used as a slug repellant 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.

Where the First Orange Tree Was Grown

Are You Eating the Orange Peels?

Whether you decide to make your own 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. This is 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 actually has more fiber than the orange. In fact 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 just chew orange peels. While it's working on your breath it's also whitening your teeth. Now, how about that?

All Processed Food Can Make us Sick

Back 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 as well as 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 in time those additives could and would harm my body. 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 of 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.

We have a right to know how our food is made, how it's produced and how it's grown. We have a fundamental right as human beings when it comes to protecting the people we love.

Tell Me What You Think.

Will You be Squeezing Your Own Healthy Orange Juice Now?

See results

© 2017 Audrey Hunt


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    • Rachelle Williams profile image

      Rachelle Williams 2 weeks ago from Tempe, AZ

      I'm prediabetic, so I live as though I have diabetes to ward off the disease for as long as possible. I normally shy away from orange juice, because of the high sugar content, but I would enjoy maybe a glass or two a month. Now that I've learned what's actually in "fresh" o.j., I'm going to stay away from it, and try to keep my loved ones away from it - a squeezing I will go! Thank you for this informative article, Audrey! You should perhaps consider creating a YouTube video demonstrating how to make freshly squeezed orange juice, I'm down to watch...

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 weeks ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for that fantastic article. I'm preparing an article titled The most dangerous places on Earth ( I will not tell you what they are) but I will link this article to my soon to be published article. Well done and I will now share it.

    • profile image

      S Maree 2 weeks ago from North/Central Indiana

      Just what our nutritionist says! The processed stuff just doesn't cut it. If more of us squeezed our own juice, maybe more varieties would be offered at grocers.

      I once found a seed that was beginning to split open, showing the green, in a lemon. Planted it in a pot & lo & behold! A lemon seedling! Gave it to a bonsai gardener who had a mini lemon. Now, with another for pollination, he's getting fruit (full size)! It's a hoot to see the developing lemons propped up to prevent breaking the tiny twigs! If you find such a seed, try it!

      Use Grandma's old-fashioned reamer that catches juice. Love it! Citrus juice can be hard on hands. Hand reamers not my fav.

      Wash fruit & dry well. Allow to sit on a paper towel lined tray. Turn fruit occasionally until the peels start to lose gloss. The juice inside develops more flavor & yields more. But if you want citrus zest, it's best to do so when glossy & smooth. Try zest in baked foods, soups (nearly all kinds!). I prefer not to use grapefruit peel; flavor is too pronounced. Freeze leftover zest. Still good a month or more.

      Try squeezing several citrus fruits for a real treat! Tangerines with lemon; orange with lime, are good starters.

      Can you get good, ripe peaches? Wash well, remove stone & whirl in food processor (I have a Ninja). Put in coarse sieve & work it until all that's left is paste. Give paste to wildlife & mix juice with fresh squeezed orange juice. Freeze what you can't drink in 2 days. Makes a great shaved ice! Try with any fresh, juicy fruit: cherries, Kiwis, nectarines, plums. Also try with carrot juice! Try to get as much pulp as possible. Gotta love that fiber!

      Use your freezer to help keep juices. Some nutrition is lost after a while, but it's still WAY better than processed!

      This is great! I'd like to read more of your discoveries!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Reading the labels can be bad for your health! LOL We buy at farmers markets, hand-squeezed by people we's the only way to go. :) Hugs from Olympia, dear friend.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Oh my, Audrey…after reading this, I’m glad that I neither drink nor am a fan of OJ, unless it is fresh squeezed in my kitchen. I never liked store-bought for some reason. Interesting and informative read!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 2 weeks ago from Brazil

      I think the consumer has been lied to for a long time. You're right, unless you squeeze it yourself, you don't know what you're getting. To increase the Omega 3 in the diet, it is put in orange juice. This omega 3 comes from tilapia! So you could say, there is something fishy going on with your orange juice.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Very compelling article and good for you that you contacted three manufacturers! Many people don't realize that orange juice is like drinking soda. I do not do ink it at all. However, I grew up on the stuff because my mother assumed it was healthy.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hi Rachelle

      Very wise of you to live as though you are diabetic. You will most likely avoid full on diabetes and enjoy good health as well. And good for you for the example you set for your loved ones. What better gift to give them?

      I'm adding a video on making your own orange juice right now and thanks.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.


      Thank you for the link to your new article you're preparing. A great title and I'm eager to see what this is about. Appreciate the share. Good health my friend.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 2 weeks ago from Louisiana, USA

      Great job with getting the nutritional facts straight and making people aware of what they are putting in these types of drinks. I found this very helpful.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 weeks ago

      I am thrilled that I don't drink orange juice!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      S Maree

      Thank you for sharing your informative comments. You are well schooled in the field of nutrition. Your tips on orange peel zest is very helpful. I hope to read more of your comments on other hubs I've written. Good health to you and yours.

    • Martha Bienert profile image

      Martha Bienert 2 weeks ago from Tempe, Arizona, USA

      Thank you for this informative article. I learned so many things about orange juice that I never knew before. It was so disappointing to find out that two of the biggest brands are simply extensions of Coke and Pepsi, and because of the added sugar are more like "healthy" soft drinks without carbonation. Bleh! But thanks for the great article!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      This is a major revelation. I've always had suspicions about food and drink that can last for weeks. Thanks for doing the research and sharing the information. Very helpful!

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 2 weeks ago from Joliet, Illinois


    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Ryan Fuller

      You are entirely welcome. I only wish I could warn everyone about the harmful lies we as consumer are being told. Thank you.

      Hi Bill

      You made me laugh! I wish our local farmers market offered orange juice. It would be a big hit. Thanks Bill for being here.

      Hugs back!


    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      This is very informative for those who consume processed or bottled fruit juices and similar food items.

      I always like fresh food and usually I go to the fruit and vegetable market myself. I am a bit fussy also when it comes to handpick my food items. Preserved food is a No for me. Having said that I do realise why people sometimes have no choice but to consume these food. It is convenient for those who are very busy and can't go to the market very frequently.

      Your article covers all the details about processed foods extensively. Very well written and informative.

      You are right about the orange peels. Their flavour is so refreshing and I usually add them while baking my cakes or making desserts.

      They are excellent as face mask and for skin care .

      Thanks for sharing this excellent hub and a very good day to you!

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 2 weeks ago from Georgia

      Wow, your article is a real eye-opener. I have always enjoyed orange juice but started a diet about 6 weeks ago and when I found out how much sugar is in oj, I stopped drinking it. Great hub with a lot of evident research behind it.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.


      It's just as well you've never liked store orange juice. How wonderful that you make your own. Real O.J made from oranges fresh squeezed is the only way to go. Thanks Genna.

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 2 weeks ago from Joliet, Illinois

      I love orange juice but knowing this makes me so disappointed!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.


      I had no idea that the omega3 added to orange juice came from tilapia. And I recently heard that tilapia is being banned from the U.S. because so many were getting sick. Ewwwe!

      Thanks for sharing this. Really like this additional information.


      And so man mothers these days assume the same thing. That orange juice is healthy for their children. Like you've pointed out - way to much sugar! Thanks.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 2 weeks ago

      What a shocker and a tear jerker. I grew up believing having orange juice and a vitamin every day was good for you. Now I am wondering about a one a day vitamin. It is never too late to learn the truth. Great information we all should know. It is sad to think how many families did what my family did. Thinking it was a healthy start to my day. Fresh squeezed is the way to go. Thank you for teaching us. It shows we are never too old to learn. Have a beautiful night.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.


      Yes! And you don't serve it at the inn either.

      Hi Martha

      I'm so glad you like this hub about orange juice. It's very disappointing to learn about all of these sad truths. I really love squeezing my own orange juice. Now - more than ever.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.


      Yes! And you don't serve it at the inn either.

      Hi Martha

      I'm so glad you like this hub about orange juice. It's very disappointing to learn about all of these sad truths. I really love squeezing my own orange juice. Now - more than ever.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      I did not know all of the information you provided here but gave up drinking orange juice many years ago because of the calories. I learned it is much better to actually eat an orange than to drink the juice for that reason and also to get more fiber.

      It is sad that we cannot trust our food manufacturers to do the right thing when it comes to our health. It is all about the bottom line for them.

      Pinning this to my health board.

    • profile image

      S Maree 2 weeks ago from North/Central Indiana

      Hello again! I'd like your opinion about Trident Seafoods, the Louis Kemp parent company. They sent me a very informative packet of information about the foods they produce. The representative, Sandra Daniels, sent me info on where they obtain their seafood, what sustainability practices they use, the nutrition, mercury content, & other factors they confront. Recipes were also included.

      I liked what I saw, but you're a very good investigator & I trust your feedback. This info, called a "Pak" was obtained by going to the website & requesting it at I hope you get a chance to check this out sometime & opine on it. Thank you!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 13 days ago from Wales

      a brilliant article which I am saving Audrey as my husband is stage 2 diabetic. Thank you so much for sharing AND SO VERY USEFUL.


    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 12 days ago from Nashville Tn.


      Yes, it's very disappointing to learn the truth about how food is processed. If manufacturers are going to use chemicals they should at least print a warning on the label. They should also be made to stop false advertising. Thanks.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 10 days ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Audrey,

      How informative and sobering is this article.

      Thank you for validating what I have discovered in my attempts to diminish / hopefully eliminate migraines. I avoid processed foods and it's now easy to do so - I'm loving the inclusion of more fruit (never juice), veggies and my favorite, water! And a bonus is the extra energy I feel mid afternoon - which had been my 'nap time'. ;)

      Excellent - always lovely when you publish. Hugs, Maria

    • profile image

      S Maree 10 days ago from North/Central Indiana

      Me again. When I juice citrus, I scrape the hull gently with a grapefruit spoon to get as much pulp out as possible. If you don't like pulp in your drinks, save it in a freezer container for homemade cakes. Extra fiber is not noticed when eating. Can also put juice & pulp in blender & break it up. I love to freeze fresh juice & scrape with a fork or grind in blender to make a guilt-free sorbet. Most nutrients are in the solid parts of fruits. Pulp can be made into jam or marmalade, along with the zest. For those sensitive to bitterness, avoid the white parts of citrus. If not, include as much as you can handle. Pith has great nutrients. Love your work & the useful comments from readers!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 9 days ago from Nashville Tn.


      You are a good consumer! The reason processed food lasts so long is because these foods are filled with chemicals. This can't be good. Thanks.


      Avoiding all processed food is much healthier and you are a wonderful example! Thanks for sharing the orange peel face mask. I'll use this. Very nice to see you my friend. My best to you.

      Hi Karen

      I'm watching my sugar too. I rarely drink more than a couple of ounces 2-3 times a week. Sometimes I just have an orange. Sugar is still loaded in the orange but the fiber is great! Good luck on your diet.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 9 days ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I just went way way back to my childhood, watching my Mom cut fresh oranges in half & holding each half onto the juicer attachment to her trusty "Mixmaster" to make sweet, delicious orange juice with lots of pulp! Mmmmm, good. I don't drink much OJ these days, but you just made me miss it! Thanks, Audrey! It IS very good for us!.....Have a perfect week-end! Hugs, Paula

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 9 days ago from Nashville Tn.


      I understand your disappointment. Why not squeeze your own orange juice? It's healthier, very easy and cost less. Just limit the amount you drink because of the sugar content.

      Dream On

      I gave up all processed food after learning about the chemicals and added sugar and salt in these products. Like you, I was brought up on orange juice for the health benefits. But - we always made our own or just ate oranges.

      How sad that the FDA allows even the slightest hint of chemicals in our food. Shame on them!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 9 days ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hi Peggy,

      It really is so much better for us to eat an orange instead of drinking the juice. If we all made this healthier change maybe the FDA would be stricter about regulations. Thanks for being here Peggy and thanks for pinning.

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