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The 100% Rule

100 Percent JuiceThere are not so apparent rounding rules applied to food labeling.  Many rushed consumers may think they are buying 100% juice for their kids. Why wouldn’t they?  The front of this label states 100% juice in bigger font than the ingredient labels that are not juice. Here are the ingredients for this juice box that targets children: Ingredients: 100% Fruit Juice (Filtered Water Sufficient To Reconstitute Concentrate), Calcium Gluconate, Calcium Lactate, Vitamin C, Natural Grape Flavor, Malic Acid

With respect to juice labeling, the Code of Federal Regulations 21CFR 101.30 states:

If the beverage contains 100 percent juice and also contains non-juice ingredients that do not result in a diminution of the juice soluble solids or, in the case of expressed juice, in a change in the volume, when the 100 percent juice declaration appears on a panel of the label that does not also bear the ingredient statement, it must be accompanied by the phrase ‘‘with added __,’’ the blank filled in with a term such as ‘‘ingredient(s),’’ ‘‘preservative,’’ or ‘‘sweetener,’’ as appropriate (e.g., ‘‘100% juice with added sweetener’’), except that when the presence of the non-juice ingredient(s) is declared as a part of the statement of identity of the product, this phrase need not accompany the 100 percent juice declaration.

This regulation typically allows 2-5% of additional ingredients to be added to a 100% juice label. In addition to delivering a whopping dose of sugar (16g), this little juice box and many other juices like it also contain free glutamate.  The amount of free glutamate is not labeled. I estimate over a half of gram of free glutamate in this product. Calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, Vitamin C, and malic acid are all manufactured using fermentation processes that contain free glutamate as a contaminant.  The impurity levels are approximately 0.5% free glutamate for each of these ingredients.  Natural grape flavor may contain as much as 60% free glutamate. Children will often drink multiple juice boxes throughout the day delivering over a gram of free glutamate before any food in their diet is considered.  A healthy alternative is to provide children whole organic fruit and water to quench the thirst.

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