Confusing Fruit Juice

June 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
From orange, grape, and apple to the much-touted pomegranate, Americans spend six billion dollars a year just on juice.Camy Sleeman's kids love juice. But when Camy buys juice at the store, she almost has to be a detective to figure out if she's really getting real juice. "I think you really have to do your homework in terms of reading the labels and seeing what is within each bottle of juice you buy."

Juice sports all sorts of labels these days: "light juice," "juice beverage," and "juice cocktail," just to name a few. Letters from Consumer Reports readers prompted Jamie Hirsh to take a closer look.

"One reader wrote, 'boy was I duped.' she bought what she thought was real juice and it actually contained no juice at all," says Hirsh.

Two labels to look for so you don't get duped: "100 percent juice" or "100 percent pure." "These mean that you're getting pure juice. But you still want to read the label. Often juices are actually a blend. And a lot of times you'll see that apple or grape juice is actually the first ingredient, so you could end up getting more of these juices than the featured juice that you actually want," says Hirsh.

If you see juice "cocktail," "beverage," or "drink," that's a red flag because these are less than 100 percent juice. Hirsh says "These drinks can contain as little as five percent juice. Water and sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup often make up the rest."

And what exactly is "light" juice? "Some big juice companies, including Tropicana, Welch's, and Ocean Spray, have come out with 'light' versions of their juices, which they tout as having less sugar and fewer calories. These are often regular juice diluted with water," says Hirsh.

That's something you can do yourself, and save money, too with the 100 percent real juice you've bought.


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