I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed not only how prolific juicing has become but the ease in which cold pressed vegetable and fruit juices have become available on the high street. They’ve left the confines of the specialist cafes and the health enthusiast’s kitchen to sit on supermarket shelves and in our lunchtime sandwich shops. They seem to have become the new “quick fix health food”.
Cold Pressed Juice – Is It Healthy?
Despite their easy availability, I’ve wondered how they stay so fresh? My juices separate and go a darker shade, even brown, within minutes of making as the ingredients oxidise and particles settle. So I did a bit of research into the production process.
How Are Cold Pressed Juices Produced?
These products are created using High Pressure Processing (HPP) which is used to increase the shelf life of foods for up to several weeks. It’s been used in the US since the mid 90’s on foods such as meats, seafood and even guacamole. In the past 7 years companies have begun to harness its power for juicing.
The Canadian chain we love to hate, Starbucks, is to introduce its Evolution Fresh juices in 15,000 outlets throughout the US to become one of the largest cold-pressed juice providers in Canada. I’m sure they’ll soon be attempting to take over the market here..
According to Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks Canada, “Customers will be amazed when they learn that each 450 ml bottle contains from one to two pounds of fruit or fruit and vegetables.”
Yes it’s true you can squeeze in a lot of fresh produce into a juice but to offer this in a product that can last not just 2-3 days, but weeks on the shelf, due to high pressure processing – is this really healthy?
So what is High Pressure Processing?
High Pressure Processing is a cold pasteurization technique that uses the combination of pressure and cold or ambient temperatures, to inactivate the vegetative flora (bacteria, virus, yeasts, moulds and parasites) and plant enzymes (proteins) present in food products.
First the produce is cold pressed by hydraulic presses squeezing the produce through fine mesh to extract every drop. It’s then bottled and sealed and subjected to a high level of isostatic pressure transmitted by water in a huge chamber (300–600MPa/43,500-87,000psi – 5 to 10 times the pressure experienced at deep sea levels).
By destroying the undesirable bacteria etc, it apparently extends the product’s shelf life without destroying the nutrient component, flavour and prevents discolouration.
To some, it’s seen as far superior to heat treatment which destroys most nutritional value.
However the scientific studies behind the process aren’t really clear and the jury is out as to whether it really is the most promising way of delivering healthy and safe foods. Some claim it doesn’t destroy all relevant unwanted microbes.
The high pressure may also cause changes to the structure, the biochemical reaction, the gene mechanism and the cell membrane, so destroying or irreversibly changing the original healthy functions of the microorganism.
There are also disputes arising on labeling, as it is legal to label the juices ‘raw’. This has got the backs up of raw foodists and there is demand for clearer labeling. A recent lawsuit against US company, Suja, states:
“The juice products are not ‘raw’. The effects of HPP on the Juice Products are identical to those of traditional pasteurization—inactivated enzymes, inactivated probiotics, altered physical properties of the product, and denatured proteins, among other undesirable qualities. As a result of Defendant’s use of HPP, its Juice Products are nothing more than run-of-the-mill, processed juices, and fail to provide the same nutrients, enzymes, and vitamins that the products have prior to being subjected to HPP.“
Previously in 2013 Naked, which is owned by PepsiCo and supplies the UK, lost a similar lawsuit regarding labelling and had to remove the word ‘natural’ from its labels to the tune of $9 million.
So…Cold Pressed Juice – Is It Healthy?
Presently it’s thought research into HPP is under-developed, yet immense opportunities could exist. Due to lack of fool proof evidence either way, it comes down to consumer choice – although sadly, not many consumers are aware of where their food comes from and how it is manipulated.
It probably is better than what we had available a few years ago in the form of nutrient destroying heat pasteurized drinks, and so could be a step in the right direction.
Hopefully there will still be room left by the growing big brands for the independent organic juice bars and cafes that can offer the most fresh and so most highly nutritious juices, but the low cost of mass produced HHP juice can’t be ignored for the average consumer.
The supply to supermarkets has given consumers who wouldn’t usually contemplate visiting a health shop or juice bar, the option to buy into ‘better health’.
Cold Pressed Juice – Is It Healthy? Well, it’s better than a can of coke any day!
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