FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Are Fruit juices and nectars regulated in the EU?
Fruit and Vegetable juices are regulated by the European Directive 2001/112/EC, relating to fruit juices and certain similar products intended for human consumption, which is currently under review. The European Union legislation strictly defines this category of products with standards and requirements. Minimum processing is involved in the production of fruit juices. Colours and preservatives are not allowed, and additives are strictly regulated, in order to keep the natural character of juices.
How big is the fruit juice consumption in the EU?
The annual per capita consumption is 21.2 l of fruit juices and nectars in the EU. The average juice consumption per day is less than 100 ml, representing a contribution to the daily energy intake of less than 2-3%. Many studies show that fruit juices are mainly consumed during mealtimes, mostly during breakfast.
Why are fruit and vegetable products so specific?
Fruit and vegetable juices and nectars add substantially to the daily intake of fruit and vegetables. They are convenient, because of their packaging and presentation, to be used in daily life (school, work, meal times etc.). They are natural sources of many beneficial active substances, minerals and vitamins. Their production involves the minimum processing necessary. The addition of sugar and other food improvement agents is also strictly regulated. Fruit juices are generally considered in dietary recommendations to be part of the 5-a-day campaigns in many of the Member States (representing 1 of the 5 daily portions of fruits and vegetables).
Don’t fruits juices contain a lot of sugar?
100% fruit juice contains naturally occurring sugars that are also present in the fruit. Addition of sugar to fruit juices is prohibited according to the EU law. In some cases sugar is indeed added to fruit nectars because for some fruits the juice is not drinkable as such (too acid or too thick). In all cases such addition is kept to the absolute minimum that is technically and organoleptically required to obtain a safe and palatable product.
Is sugar in fruit juices and nectars a problem?
In 100% fruit juices, the sugars present are naturally occurring and impossible to remove. Sugars cannot be added to 100% fruit juices. In fruit nectars sugar is sometimes needed to obtain a drinkable product, especially in case where:
- The fruits cannot be pressed to extract the juice (juice made of pulped fruit and sugar addition for strict palatability reason).
- The juice in its natural state is not palatable (too acid or too concentrated).
In most cases the total amount of sugars present will be comparable with the natural sugar content of 100% pure fruit juice. Moderate consumption will not add substantially to energy intake.
Is there a link between fruit and vegetable juices, and obesity?
A link between obesity and fruit and vegetable juices, nectars and drinks is most unlikely.
Fruit and vegetable juices have high nutrition density (high vitamins and antioxidants content) but not necessary high caloric content. Furthermore, there is no difference between the sugars found in fruit juice and that present in the fruit itself. While obesity rates have increased in recent years, fruit juice consumption has largely remained stable. It even appears that people who consume fruit and vegetable juices are found to have healthier overall diets than those who do not consume these products. The average juice consumption per day is less than 100 ml, representing a contribution to the daily energy intake of less than 2-3% of the daily energy intake of an adult.
Are there dental caries risks with fruit and vegetable juices?
Concerns have been raised that the acid and sugar content of fruit juice could have a deleterious effect on dental health. However, it is scientifically proven that the consumption of fruit juice as part of a balanced diet can be compatible with good dental health. There is no difference between fruit and fruit juice in that perspective. Lower levels of dental caries do not necessarily exist where the consumption of sugar is low. Similarly higher consumption of sugar does not equate to more dental caries. The main element to reduce caries remains good dental hygiene.
Are there dental erosion risks with fruit and vegetable juices?
Dental erosion is caused by a combination of different factors: biological factors (i.e. saliva flow and buffer, tooth structure), chemical factors (i.e. pH, buffering capacity, acids and minerals in the food) and behavioural factors (i.e. eating and drinking habits, tooth brushing, vomiting and occupation). Like many other foodstuffs, fruit juices have low pH and high buffering capacity. However, due to the behavioural and biological factors that may cause dental erosion it is very hard to predict erosive potential in vivo based on chemical composition2. Therefore, even if fruit juices have a chemical composition that may theoretically cause dental erosion, it cannot be concluded that they actually cause erosion. If the composition of the saliva is normal and there is no extreme consumption behaviour, the effect can be minimal.
What is the Sodium content of fruit and vegetable juices based products and is there any link with high blood pressure and risk of heart disease?
Like fruit itself, fruit juices, nectars and drinks contain very low amounts of sodium, saturated fats and cholesterol. The presence of sodium in vegetable juices or vegetable juice-based products is generally limited to the necessary technical limits, for reasons of palatability. The positive nutrients present in the product largely outweigh potential negative effects of sodium consumption.
Can fruit and vegetable juices help in preventing cardiovascular disease?
Consumption of fruits and vegetables is strongly associated with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This property could also be associated with the consumption of fruit and vegetable juices, which are not nutritionally inferior to whole fruits and vegetables. The positive impact which fruit and vegetables offer comes not only from fibre but also from antioxidants and other food components which are present in high quantities.
Is the presence of dietary fibre important in fruit and vegetable juices and nectars?
As compared to fruit and vegetables, the content of dietary fibre in juice is quite low. This is not the case for other positive nutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements, amino acids, anti-oxidant, carotenoids). However, some fruit and vegetable juices, nectars and drinks also contain dietary fibre and, as such, can provide an additional source of fibre to help optimise overall fibre intake.
Can fruit and vegetable juices count as a part of the daily fruit and vegetable intake?
Fruit and Vegetable juices are considered as 1 portion of the daily fruit and vegetable intake, as part of 5-a-day campaigns in a majority of European countries: UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Finland, Belgium, Poland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain. Fruit juices can make a very positive contribution to help consumers achieve the dietary target of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Fruit juices count as good source of vitamin C in the diet and they also contains amounts of folate, potassium and polyphenols.