Watchdog: Juice labels can mislead

Feb. 1, 2012 at 11:29 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Labels trumpeting health benefits of popular fruit juices are often misleading, a U.S. non-profit food safety watchdog group says.

Jeff Cronin of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington singled out Minute Maid Help Nourish Your Brain 100 percent Fruit Juice, saying the product is mostly apple and grape juice -- two of the cheapest, least nutritious juices -- though its label uses big print to highlight smaller amounts of pomegranate and blueberry juice.

The Help Nourish Your Brain series of juices have labels that bear highly misleading non-sequiturs related to brain health, including "Vitamin C is highly concentrated in brain nerve endings," Cronin said.

"Juice makers, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, realize that consumers are concerned about losing weight and reducing their risk of diet-related diseases," Jayne Hurley, senior nutritionist at CSPI, said in a statement. "But no juice is going to perform miracles for eyes, skin, hearts, colons, or any other part of the body. That goes for just plain juice, and it certainly goes for a juice dressed up with some combination of water, artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or fake fibers."

Some orange juice labels, like those of Tropicana's Healthy Heart with Omega-3, imply heart health, but the product contains only 50 milligrams of fish body oil, a tiny fraction of what one would get from a serving of salmon. Minute Maid Heart Wise orange juice, on the other hand, contains 1 gram of beneficial plant sterols -- have of the amount that, taken daily, can lower low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol by roughly 10 percent over a period of eight weeks.

A review of juices is included in the current issue of CSPI's Nutrition Action Healthletter.

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