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When Is A Fruit Drink Not Really A Juice?

July 27, 2015

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The beverage industry offers an array of attractively labeled drink products that may or may not contain any real fruit. The beverages may be carbonated or noncarbonated, full-strength, diluted or just colored sugar water. People may think they are buying a juice product when, in fact, they are not. Consumers can be easily confused, especially when the label uses the words "punch," "cocktail" or "drink." Exactly what these terms mean may not seem clear. 

Beverages that purport to contain juice (fruit or vegetable juice) must declare the % of juice. Products labeled as "juices," must contain real fruit juices. Beverages that are 100% juice may be called "juice," according to the FDA. However, beverages diluted to less than 100% juice must have the word "juice" qualified with a term such as "beverage," "drink," or "cocktail." Alternatively, the product may be labeled with a name reflecting the form of juice (such as "diluted apple juice").

The FDA does not have a specific definition or standard of identity for punch, or any other requirement that a punch contain fruit juice. A punch may be an artificially flavored beverage, with or without natural flavorings, or it may be made from tea and other ingredients, exclusive of fruit juice. Such products, however, must be clearly distinguished from products made from fruit juices or fruit concentrates or purees.

When selecting beverages, be sure to read the labels carefully, and look for the percentages of juices (or combinations of juices).

Information Sources: ForkWise: Diet and the Prevention of Cancer ©1998 Moffitt Cancer Center; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration