How well do you really know what you're drinking?
Savvy shoppers know not to take product labels at face value. Still, it's been a rough couple of weeks for consumers trying to keep the facts straight about what's in what they drink.
First it was the news about how not-so-one-hundred-percent 100% orange juice is. For those who may be unaware of the controversy, here's what you need to know: During processing, things like orange aroma, oil, and pulp can get separated from the actual juice. Specifically, the process of removing the oxygen from the juice (which is done to keep it from spoiling without the use of preservatives) strips the juice of a lot of its natural flavors. And so to make up for the loss, those natural components -- in the form of "flavor packs" -- get added back in after processing. Not surprisingly, the backlash among the OJ-drinking set was fast and furious.
Now, hot on the heels of this revealing information, comes word that some of the popular brands of coconut water fail to deliver the "promised" amount of sodium -- an electrolyte key to the drink's appeal as a sports and energy drink. A report from ConsumerLab.com revealed that only one out of the three tested beverages offered an amount of electrolytes comparable to other sports drinks like Gatorade. Even though some may not outright call themselves sports drinks on the label (O.N.E. Coconut Water has), that's certainly how they're marketed (not to mention some even boast athlete endorsements). As ConsumerLab president Dr. Tom Cooperman told the Huffington Post, "People should be aware that the labels are not accurate on some of the products, and they shouldn't count on coconut water for serious rehydration."
Thing is, when it comes to finding out news like this, are you really even surprised? Beverage labels, and labels in general, are a product's face to the world -- that they're used as a canvas to improve the image of their product and make it more appealing to consumers is easy to understand. Of course, some cases are more egregious than others. For instance, how Snapple's teas were labeled as "all natural" despite listing citric acid as an additive. Or worse, the example of Nestle's Juicy Juice Brain Development Fruit Juice claiming that it "Helps Support Brain Development." Apparently, such claims, called structure/function claims, require no FDA pre-certification.
- Maryse Chevriere, The Daily Meal