From Farm to Fridge: The Facts About 100 Percent Fruit Juice Processing
There’s a lot of confusion about the manufacturing techniques used to bring your food and beverage choices to the grocery store shelves. The idea of “processing”– namely pasteurization and juice concentration—can easily get confusing, but rest assured that these techniques are in place to ensure your beverages are safe to drink.
When you drink a glass of juice, you want it to be free from harmful germs like E.coli. This is why the pasteurization process is so important.
After fruits are picked, washed and their juices are extracted, the pasteurization process begins. The process promotes safety by killing harmful germs such as E. coli that can potentially be found in unpasteurized juices. According to the FDA, consuming untreated juices can pose health risks to your family and that is why they require a warning label on all unpasteurized juices.
So what exactly do these terms mean?
Other facts about fruit juice processing:
Learn more about how your favorite 100 percent fruit juice makes it to your table below:
100 percent Apple Juice Processing: The first step in any processing procedure is inspection of the raw fruit. During this most critical step, the apples are examined by a trained inspector for “integrity and sanitary condition” and are randomly tested for spray residues or mold. Apples not meeting processing standards are rejected. Before raw apples are processed into apple juice, they are put through a handling process designed to remove external surface dirt and topical chemical residues. Using various methods, the juice is extracted from the apples and heat-treated (pasteurized) to kill any microorganisms that might be present. This heat treatment also helps improve the overall clarity of the apple juice. Before being packaged, the juice may be further filtered and given an additional heat treatment to assure safety.
100 percent Orange Juice Processing: Once harvested, oranges are squeezed in a process that is similar to that of a home juicer. The juice may be flash pasteurized (pasteurized very quickly and cooled down quickly) to sterilize the juice and ensure that the naturally occurring vitamins and phytonutrients are not harmed. This fresh squeezed juice may be made into concentrate by removing the water (water is added back at the time of bottle filling or added by the customer after purchase). As oranges are only harvested for a limited period of time (November – June), juice is stored so it is available year round.
100% Grape Juice Processing: Juice grapes are harvested in late summer and early fall in North America. Unlike table grapes and many other fruits, juice grapes do not store well, so they must be processed immediately at the time of picking. Once harvested, the grapes are brought into the processing facility, crushed and pressed into juice. The juice can either be pasteurized and stored as single strength juice, or it may be concentrated (water removed) and stored. This juice and juice concentrate is stored under refrigeration so that it is available year round. At the time of bottling, grape juices (single strength and/or concentrate) are blended together. Some 100 percent grape juices are fortified with vitamin C, which is added at this time. The juice is then filtered (to make it clear) and pasteurized again just before it goes into the bottle.