Natalya Murakhver, a New York food writer and mother of an 18-month year old daughter, loved her premium brand orange juice -- the "100 percent pure" and "not from concentrate" kind that comes in the colorful carton and tastes consistently delicious.
That is, until she said she learned from her first-time moms group that there's a "secret ingredient" in all premium orange juices that companies are not required to put on their labeling.
Now, after writing Whole Foods, she refuses to buy her favorite, "365" juice, amid uncertainty about its contents.
"One of the moms said she had read about [how the juice is made] and they held it in tanks for up to a year and it pretty much lost all of its flavor and had to be reinvigorated with these flavor packs, which are essentially chemicals," said Murakhver, 40, and co-author of "They Eat What?: A Cultural Encyclopedia of Weird and Exotic Food from around the World."
For the last 30 years, the citrus industry has used flavor packs to process what the Food and Drug Administration identifies as "pasteurized" orange juice. That includes top brands such as Tropicana, Minute Maid, Simply Orange and Florida Natural, among others.
Murakhver said the addition of the flavor packs long after orange juice is stored actually makes those premium juices more like a concentrate, and consumers need to know that.