General & Technical FAQ’s
How is fruit juice made?

The fresh fruit goes through a series of preparatory steps i.e. selection of undamaged, ripe fruit, sorting and washing followed by the extraction process. The latter includes various methods but generally involves a pulveriser and / or press. The juice is then filtered to obtain a clear juice. The last step can be omitted if a cloudy juice is desired. The final step is a heat treatment called pasteurisation which ensures the product is safe for consumption.

How is the juice extracted from the fruit?

The method used to extract the juice from the fruit, depends on the type of fruit:

  • Citrus, apples, pears and grapes are naturally juicy which enables them to be mechanically pressed and then filtered;
  • Melon and papaya are steamed in order to release the juice;
  • Fruit like Mango, guava, pineapple and strawberry must be pulped to extract the juice. When fruit is pulped, it is either pushed through a perforated metal plate that crushes it to a pulp or it is pulped in a liquidizer. The pulp is then filtered to remove the bigger fruit pieces.
Does fruit / vegetable juice ferment or deteriorate when it is being extracted from the fruit?
Fruit juice starts to deteriorate as soon as it is extracted from the fruit as a result of enzyme action and bacterial spoilage. Extracted fruit juice that is left to stand for long periods out of a fridge will start to ferment and discolour. To avoid fermentation, deterioration or discolouring, the best quality fruit juice is made by minimizing the time between the extraction of the juice and bottling/canning.
How is fruit / vegetable juice preserved? Why doesn't it spoil when it is stored on the shelf in the supermarkets?
Fruit juices that are aseptically packed are pasteurized to preserve them. The heat processing destroys the enzymes that are naturally found in the fruit, which can cause the juice to spoil and discolour and also kills any spoilage micro-organisms and pathogens that may be found in fruit. These products will typically have a shelf life of 12 months.

Modern pasteurization has minimal harmful effects on the taste, physical and nutritional content of the juice. The heat process may however destroy some of the heat-sensitive nutrients (such as vitamin C and the B vitamins), but these can be restored to the product, as long as they are correctly labeled.

In the case of fresh fruit juice, which is usually squeezed from the fruit at the point of sale, the law requires that for food safety reasons, no more than 2 hours can elapse between the extraction of the juice and the sale and consumption of the juice.

In the case of chilled juices, preservatives are needed to prevent spoilage by microorganisms thus maintaining product quality and safety for the required shelf life of the product. These juices normally have a shelf life of maximum 2 – 3 months.

Why is some fruit juice cloudy while other fruit juice is clear?
The juice extracted from the fruit in the process of making fruit juice, is naturally cloudy but it can be clarified by filtering the juice. The extracted juice or pulp is filtered by means of dedicated filters. In some cases enzymes are used to clarify and stabilize the juice. Fruit juice like apple, pear and grape juice is generally clarified because of consumer preference. Clarified apple and grape juice is also used extensively as a base for making juices with other pulpy fruit ingredients like mango or guava.
Does the heat treatment of fruit / vegetable juice destroy the vitamins in the juice?
Heat-sensitive nutrients such as vitamin C and the B vitamins may be partially destroyed during the heat treatment used to preserve the fruit juice, but these nutrients are legally allowed to be restored to the product, as long as they are correctly labelled. The benefit of microbiologically safe fruit juice, that is the purpose of the heat treatment, outweighs the partial loss of some of the vitamins.
What types of fruit / vegetable juice are there and what is the difference between them?

In South Africa there are specific regulations relating to fruit juices; what they may contain in terms of additives; and that sets definitions and standards for each class of fruit juice based on its composition. It is important to note that there is a large variation from ‘fresh fruit juice’ which is 100% fruit juice that has been freshly squeezed, to ‘fruit drink ‘ which contains only 6 % fruit juice.

Fresh Fruit Juice:
This is fruit juice that is generally freshly squeezed in the store where it is sold; contains no additives; and is preserved only by refrigeration.

(Unsweetened) Fruit Juice:
This is fruit juice which will have all the characteristics of the fruit from which it was derived. It may not contain any additional sugar, whether from sugar cane, beet sugar, honey or other sugar syrups. Because fruits vary in the amount of their natural sugar content, the minimum sugar content of each fruit juice is regulated. Permitted additives include acidifying agents, preservatives, ascorbic acid, carbon dioxide and in some cases colourants. This class of juice can have a shelf life of 30 days to 12 months, depending on the method of preservation and packaging.

Fruit Nectar:
This is a juice beverage which consists of juice and water with or without the addition of sugar. The resulting beverage would contain at least 12.5% juice in the case of lemon or lime and up to 50% in the case of fruits like apple and orange. The minimum amount of fruit juice content is legislated in the regulations.

Fruit Drink and Squash:
This class of fruit beverage is also a mixture of juice and sugar with or without the addition of water, with the exception that the juice content is much lower. A fruit drink has a fruit content of only 6%. A fruit squash is a concentrated fruit drink which means that it must be reconstituted before use. As a result the fruit content in the concentrate (squash) is a minimum of 24%.

Does fruit juice contain sugar?
Yes, all fruit juice contains sugar because fruit itself naturally contains sugar. The natural sugar content of fruit is between 8% and 12%, but the actual levels vary from fruit to fruit and with the stage of ripeness of the fruit as well as the geographical location where the fruit was grown.

Some form of sugar, based on the amount already present in the juice, is also added to the fruit pulp when making commercial fruit juice and serves two main purposes.

The first is that clarified apple, pear or grape juice is added to fruit pulps such as guava and mango to obtain a drinkable fruit juice. This is because these fruits generally contain so much pulp, that they are too thick to drink and so need to be diluted.

The second reason for adding clarified apple, pear or grape juice, is because many consumers demand a sweeter product than the natural juice sweetness. Sucrose, usually in the form of a sugar syrup, is used instead of clarified juice to obtain a cheaper beverage such as a nectar or fruit drink. The regulations have a set sugar content for the different types of fruit juice.

Are there regulations regarding fruit juice in South Africa?
Various legislation regulates the manufacture and labelling of fruit juice in South Africa. The Department of Agriculture, manage a regulation relating to the classification, packing and marking of fruit juice and drinks. The Directorate of Food Control manages the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, that includes a number of regulations that impact on fruit juice manufacturers including labelling regulations and regulations that set limits for the use of various additives in fruit juices.
What is 'reconstituted'?
Juice from fruit like apples, grapes and oranges is extracted and subsequently concentrated (water is removed by means of evaporation) to reduce the volume and to prolong the shelf life of the product. For ready-to-drink consumption, the concentrate is diluted again before bottling. This “add back” of water is called reconstitution.
Why doesn't freshly squeezed juice taste like bottled / canned juice?
Most juices on the market are made from concentrate which does not have the ‘fresh aroma’ due to the heat treatment.

There are some products on the market which are made only from juice which has not been concentrated and is called “not-from-concentrate”. These juices do taste more like the ‘home made’ product.

What is 100% Juice?
In terms of the South African legislation, a 100% juice will consist of the natural juice of the named fruit(s), with the possibility of permitted preservatives, citric acid, ascorbic acid, carbon dioxide, natural essences / aromas. It does not contain added sugars derived from any other source ie sugar beet / cane, invert sugar etc.
What is Organic Juice?
These juices are prepared from fruit grown without the use of pesticides and not derived from genetically modified crops. All manufacturers are independently certified before they are able to use the term organic.
What is Natural?
Does not contain food additives (unless they are natural components) or have any part removed or changed. The word ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ is highly regulated by the SA labelling regulation and may only be used under specific circumstances.
What Does "No Added Sugar" Mean?
No added sugar – products may not contain any added sugar / sweetener (including honey, malt, malt extract or maltose) but, of course, still contain the natural sugars of the fruit juice.

Health and Nutrition FAQ’s
Does reconstituted juice have any added sugar?
Definitely not! Juice is transported around the world in a concentrated form (two thirds of the water has been removed). The reason for this is that it is expensive to transport this extra volume. The water is removed by means of evaporation, but the juice retains all its nutritional characteristics except for the fact that it loses some of its Vitamin C. Reconstituted juice is simply this concentrated juice with the same amount of water added back as was originally evaporated off. No sugar is added or removed during the concentration process.
if a juice uses reconstituted juice but the bottle doesn't list a sugar under ingredients or doesn't say "No added sugar" on the label - is it likely that sugar has been added?

Again, if sugar is not mentioned in the ingredient listing there should definitely not be any sugar added to the product.

SAFJA, through its voluntary Code of Practice, actually monitors fruit juice samples from the marketplace and analyse their contents for truth in labelling on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance to the Standards and the safety of consumers.

How much Vitamin C does fruit juice provide?

Fruit juice is a rich source of vitamin C. A regular glass of orange juice provides almost 3 times the Recommended Dietary Intake of vitamin C.

Fruit juice provided 33% of the vitamin C in children’s diets
Fruit juice contributed more vitamin C than whole fruit in children’s diets
Fruit juice plus whole fruit provided 50% of the vitamin C in children’s diets

Adults also rely on fruit juice as a source of vitamin C with almost 25% of the vitamin C intake for adults provided by juice alone1.

1. S.J. Record, CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition “Intakes of fruit and fruit juice in the 1995 National Nutrition Survey” December 2001

Can Diabetics Drink Fruit Juice?
It is important that people with diabetes develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular activity, healthy eating and maintaining a healthy bodyweight1.

As a source of carbohydrate with a low Glycemic Index, moderate amounts of fruit juice, such as orange, pineapple or apple juice can be included with meals.

While there is no need for people with diabetes to follow a special diet, there are some important dietary principles that should be adopted to ensure the condition is well managed and the risks of complications are reduced.

Eat mainly high fibre carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals and vegetables and fruit.
Reduce fat intake, especially saturated fat.
Limiting the serving size of meals to help maintain a healthy body weight1.

It is advisable to ensure each meal contains some carbohydrate as this is important for maintaining blood glucose levels.

1. The Better Health Channel, Department of Human Services Victoria, “Diabetes and healthy eating” www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au, 1999, reviewed January 2006

Can Fruit Juice Boost Mineral Absorption?

Yes, research has shown that when foods containing important minerals like iron are consumed along with vitamin C, the presence of the vitamin C can significantly enhance the amount of iron absorbed from that food. Vitamin C helps release iron from other foods and so high vitamin C fruit juices can play a valuable role in helping to maintain iron status.

What Are Phytochemicals?
Phytochemicals, are naturally occurring compounds found only in plant foods like fruits, vegetables and their juices. Researchers believe phytochemicals have positive effects on health, including acting like antioxidants.

A recent Australian study1 showed:

“One orange has over 170 different phytochemicals, including more than 60 different flavonoids”

The author of the report concluded:

“… fruits and juices contain hundreds of active ingredients that can affect human health in a number of ways”

Although phytochemicals are not yet listed on the Nutrition Information Panel of any fruit, vegetable or juice, there is extensive research underway to reveal and explain their considerable health potential.

1. Baghurst, K., CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition, The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits, 2003