Mixed Fruit Juices and Drinks
Nine the wiser, or is there a best brand?
From a health perspective, fresh juice is of course preferable but its limited availability during off seasons may make the packaged variant a convenient choice for consumers.And does this convenience entail any compromise, in the sense that the processing bit may also reduce the quantity of nutrients and enzymes inherently available in the fresh fruits? Several domestic and multinational companies are marketing their brand of fruit juices/fruit beverages/fruit drinks from juice concentrates, adding permitted preservatives and colouring substances for better acceptability. Are they all generally safe for consumption, keeping in mind the possibility of contamination by pesticide residues or heavy metals like lead and arsenic? What factors determine the quality and taste of the juice/drink? Do you know that added sugar is not permitted in the pure (100%) juices? It is permitted only in beverages/ drinks. Do you know that there is a limit for added synthetic colour in juices/drinks? It is such and other aspects that we have sought to capture in a parameter-by-important parameter testing of nine popular brands in the market.
When fruits are made into pulp or juice, they are bound to lose some of their important fibres and vitamin content. These drinks usually contain more sugar than the actual fruit. The following report assesses, among other things, the sugar profile of three brands of mixed fruit juice and six of readyto-serve fruit drinks. Other key parameters that we tested included total soluble solids (TSS), acidity, added synthetic colour, nutritional contents (energy value, carbohydrates, iron, sodium, etc.), presence of heavy metals, pesticide residues, preservatives, and microbiological activity.
As per brands’ declarations, the major ingredients in fruit juices are water (as reconstituted from juice concentrate) and mixed fruit juice, and a fractional percentage of antioxidant, acidity regulator and preservatives. In fruit drinks/beverages, the major ingredients are water, mixed fruit juice and sugar including added sugar, and a fractional percentage of antioxidant, acidity regulator and preservatives.
While there is no reliable method as yet to detect percentage of juice content, our test results assure us that the nine brands fulfil the minimum requirements and are safe for human consumption. While there were some variations, these were well within the specified limits.
The tests were conducted at an NABL-accredited laboratory and as per requirements specified in Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Regulations, 2011, related Indian Standards and manufacturers’ declarations.