Alarming additives and Food Labels: Beef and Alcohol in Popular Fruit Juices

Group of fruits takes up the entire frame. In the form of a square.

After learning that some fruit flavoured drinks could contain traces of alcohol and beef, a Hindu man in Melbourne wrote to Heinz Australia to enquire about their food labels and whether that was the case in his favourite beverage, Golden Circle juice. He was shocked when the company replied, revealing that the entire Golden Circle long-life juice range was created using alcohol-based flavours and a clarifying agent derived from beef.

The statement explained that the ‘clear’ apple juice was made clear by using ‘a variety of clarifying agents’, which would not be ‘halal suitable’. The news has left Sonjoy Chakraborty outraged, who explained that because he is Hindu, beef and alcohol are prohibited within his diet.

The news could also provide problems to those with other dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians, who were not aware of the meat content.

Reading the Label for Ingredients

Following the revelation, Heinz suggested that all customers should ‘carefully’ read the ingredients on a product before they buy or consume it. Although this is reasonable advice when it comes to food safety, what Heinz failed to recognize is that the label on these fruit juices made no mention of alcohol or beef traces.
The clear apple juice from Golden Circle comes with a label that proudly boasts photographs of fresh, luscious apples, and absolutely no added preservatives.

In response to Heinz, Mr Sonjoy Chakraborty asked for the company to come clean and inform customers about the hidden ingredients within their juice. He called the fact that the ingredients were not listed on the packaging ‘wrong and unethical’, requesting an immediate change.

Why Weren’t the Additives mentioned on the Label?

Providing a statement to Fairfax Media, the famous brand, Heinz argued that a gelatin derived from beef had been used to remove the ‘cloudiness’ from the appearance of their apple juice, noting that this is then removed during filtration to the final product.

Spokeswoman Carolyn Fox also announced that only ‘very small amounts’ of alcohol had been used in combination with concentrated flavours to keep them fresh and ‘crisp’. The alcohol typically ‘evaporates’ out of the juice during pasteurization, when heat is applied. According to Ms Fox, any alcohol that may remain in the final juice product would be so small that it is below any detectable levels.

Furthermore, the spokeswoman stated that Heinz’ products continue to meet regulatory standards, which did not require them to release information about components, flavours or processing aids on their ingredients list.

About Rebekah Carter

Rebekah is a passionate researcher and writer about all things food safety. As a regular contributor to the Australian Institute of Food Safety news page, Rebekah welcomes comments or feedback on articles written.