A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or juice can fill the daily requirement of vitamin C, while an orange-flavored drink can bring excess sugars and problematic additives.
Choose carefully, as some labels seem almost designed to confuse consumers. Our market survey on 34 products on the shelf in Italy.
Freshly squeezed orange juice, orange flavored drink. 34 products in comparison
Our analysis it ranges as always between the brands of the leaders in the Brand Industry (IDM) and the Private Label (MDD). Of the latter, we compare the private-label of GDO (Coop, Esselunga, Carrefour, Conad), discount (Eurospin and Lidl) and their suppliers (Consilia).
The three types of product considered are the juice, the fruit juice and the orange drink. We have found:
- origin of the raw material, quantity of sugars and vitamin C,
- for drinks also the ingredients, the quantity of fruit juice, the possible presence of problematic substances,
- transparency in labels, in some cases potentially misleading.
1) Freshly squeezed orange juice, the best
The juice orange is the best product. 100% fruit subjected to a delicate treatment that better preserves the nutritional and organoleptic qualities of oranges. We examined 10 of them, between blondes and redheads. 4 are from Italian and Sicilian oranges, 6 from oranges from Spain and Morocco. Among the latter, two are produced abroad (Lidl in Germany, PepsiCo's Tropicana in France).
Vitamin C it stands out in juices for its natural presence and quantity, which is greater in those of blood oranges (about 50 mg / 100 ml) and in any case appreciable in those of blond oranges (about 35 mg / 100 ml).
The organic it is available and should be favored. Both for health and the immune system, both for the neurobehavioral development of children, such as we have seen. But also to favor a sustainable production system.
Features of organic orange juice, as you can see, are comparable to those of conventional juices, with the exception of the price.
1.1) Orange juice, a fresh product
'The juice it is fruit as it is. The fruit is squeezed - or sucked - without any additions. It is frozen at -20 ° C, a process that stabilizes the vitamins. Then it is chopped and lightly pasteurized (as for fresh milk). In fact, it lives up to 45 days. We have a 'jacket' system, which transfers heat without direct contact between the fruit and the steam', explains Giorgio Monaco, director of' Campo dei Fiori ', the last company in Northern Italy to package juices and produce juices also under its own brand.
2) Concentrated orange juice
Orange juice from concentrate, 100% fruit according to European regulatory provisions, it ranks second in the ranking. The only ingredient is orange juice which is extracted, refined, pasteurized and concentrated by evaporation and in the country of origin. It is then reconstituted with the addition of water in the country of destination, where the packaging takes place.
The origin fruit is never indicated, as it is not Italian. The concentrate from blond oranges comes mainly from Brazil and the USA, the first producers, and from Spain.
The price, in the 7 products examined, ranges from 0,74 to 1,57 euros per liter. Sugars vary between 7,5 and 9 grams per 100ml (so 15-18 grams in a 200ml glass).
Vitamin C is shown in the nutritional table of only two products, under the Zuegg and Esselunga brands, both with 24 mg / 100 ml. There shelf-life it can reach six months.
3) Orange flavored drinks
The drink with fruit it is the cheapest and least valuable product. Among the 11 examined, the price fluctuates between 0,69 euros / liter, in discount Eurospin, and € 1,58 / l for Santàl and Zuegg. less valuable, long-lasting (over a year).
The basic recipe it includes water, concentrated orange juice (in variable percentages), sugar, citric acid (or ascorbic acid) and flavors (natural or synthetic).
The nutritional properties and organoleptic are influenced by the dilution of the juice with water and the 'correction' with sugar, flavorings, dyes, sometimes even vitamin C.
3.1) Added sugars
The added sugars (sugar and / or glucose-fructose syrup) are not ideal for health (EFSA, 2022). And the overall sugar content in the orange-flavored drinks examined ranged from 8,7 to 12 grams per 100 ml.
In other words, range it ranges from 17,4 to 24 grams of sugar per glass, that is, from 3 and a half teaspoons to almost 5 teaspoons of sugar - from 67 to 93 kcal - for a 200 ml glass.
The dyes added to blood orange drinks are mostly natural, mostly carrot concentrates. However, there are some colored products with problematic additives.
3.2) Cochineal, the dye enemy of children
The E120 dye (carminic acid or cochineal), allergenic and suspected of promoting hyperactivity in children, is present in 3 blood orange flavored drinks, Rauch Bravo (produced in Austria, Hungary and Serbia), Valfrutta and Consilia.
This additive it is obtained by squeezing an insect, the cochineal, parasite of the cactus. It is prohibited in organic products and subject to an acceptable daily dose of 2,5 mg / kg of body weight.
It is recommended to pay attention to its presence also in other products, such as the Frùttolo Maxi Duo and Super Mario Yogoloso milk snacks by Danone, such as we have seen.
4) Head VAT
The price of the juices, as the table shows, it ranges from 2 to 3,70 euros / liter for reds, from 2 to 5,76 for blondes. And to aggravate the price are the taxes. In Italy the juice is taxed with VAT at 22%, it is considered a luxury product. Concentrated juices and even fruit-flavored drinks, with sugar and even controversial additives, are taxed at 10%.
Fiscal policy it is opposed to health and agriculture. With the result of taxing the healthiest product, often from oranges, more Made in Italy, and encourage the consumption of those subjected to intensive processing, starting from semi-finished products arriving from afar.
'The out of place aspect in my opinion it is to apply the 22% VAT on the product on the market, instead of on the cost. We see the effects now, with inflation galloping. If before 1 liter of juice for one euro was taxed for 22 cents, now it pays 33 for a price of 1,50 euro for the same liter of product'comments Giorgio Monaco.
5) Deceptive labels
One last aspect worthy of attention is the ease, a euphemism, with which most of the labels of drinks with fruit juice and other ingredients are made.
5.1) Nature of the product?
Type of drink. Images of succulent oranges and evocations of 'Orange', 'Blood Orange' in large letters stand out on most beverage labels that contain only part of them. Few take care to inform the consumer, on the source of the package, on the nature of a 'drink' or 'drink' with oranges, as prescribed by reg. EU 1169/11 (article 7.1.a). Without prejudice to Carrefour, Coop and Consilia (whose recipe is not the best, with synthetic aromas and the color E120).
For the avoidance of doubt, the name of the food preceding the ingredient list must be checked.
5.2) Origin of fruit, natural ingredients?
Origin of fruit. The indication of origin is prescribed for fresh fruit, but not for fruit juices and other drinks that contain it. Unless the operator claims the origin of the product (understood as the country of last substantial transformation, e.g. 'Prodotto in Italia') and it does not coincide with that of the primary ingredient. In this case, pursuant to reg. EU 775/2018, it is necessary to communicate to the consumer the different origin or provenance of the raw material, in the same field of vision and with equal evidence.
It is doubted therefore the legitimacy of labels such as those of the Valfrutta orange drink, where the relationship with 'nature at first hand ... as an Italian agricultural cooperative ', if the juice derives from imported raw materials. The claim 'Prodotto in Italia'by LIDL.
Natural. The Valfrutta drink evokes the 'first hand nature'with E120 dye and synthetic flavors. Skipper and Santàl refer to '100% natural ingredients'on orange-flavored drinks that contain sugar, presumably refined and non-compliant 'naturalness' requirements. Good work to ICQRF and the Antitrust Authority.
Marta Strinati and Dario Dongo