What is Cold Processed Juice?
It’s been creeping out of the specialist cafes and bars. Out of the health enthusiast’s kitchen onto the supermarket shelves and into our lunchtime sandwich shops, becoming the new “health” food. Cold pressed vegetable and fruit juices are everywhere.
News is that the Canadian chain we love to hate, Starbucks, is to introduce its Evolution Fresh juices in 15,000 outlets throughout the US . It will become one of the largest cold-pressed juice providers in Canada. They own California’s largest juicery and High Pressure Processing (HPP) plant.
HPP increases the shelf life of foods for up to several weeks. Used in the US since the mid 90’s on foods such as meats, seafood and guacamole, in the past 7 years companies have begun to harness its power for juicing.
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 How Is Cold Pressed Juice Produced?
Cold pressed juice is created via 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 at low level temperature, 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.
It also destroys plant enzymes which aren’t essential for human, as they’re made for the survival of the plants; they become inactivated when they reach our stomachs which are designed to break down such proteins very efficiently.
It’s only the enzymes associated with living microorganisms (such as those in fermented foods like sauerkraut), that might reach the small intestine intact, and so be of benefit.
Is Cold Pressed Juice Good or Bad?
Scientific studies behind the HPP 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, biochemical reaction, gene mechanism and the cell membrane, so destroying or irreversibly changing the original functions of the microorganism.
This subject of change brings us on to the disputes arising on labelling, as it is legal to label the juices ‘raw’. This has got the backs up of raw foodists.
Professor V.M. Balasubramaniam of the Food Science and Technology Department at Ohio State University states; “A carrot’s nutritional content will be very similar before and after treatment”. However, “if you look at it microscopically, there may be changes in the cell structures.”
This discovery is leading to the demand for clearer labelling and 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 and had to remove the word ‘natural’ from its labels to the tune of $9 million.
Is There A Future For Cold Pressed Juice?
Presently it’s thought research into HPP is under-developed, yet immense opportunities 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.
Whatever you think of HPP, it probably is better than what we had available a few years ago in the form of nutrient destroying heat pasteurized drinks, and HHP 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 have sprung up offering the most fresh and so most highly nutritious juices, but the low cost of HHP can’t be ignored for the average consumer.
HHP juices have become one of Whole Foods’ best selling categories for 5 years and 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’ . They are probably a better option than the made from concentrate fruit juices which have been the main stay for years.
Are you part of the juicing sect? Or do you find it all a bit overwhelming? I’d love to hear your thoughts…