A decision by the Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation has seen orange juice go from a five-star designation under the Health Star Rating System to as low as two.
The change reflects a decision by the Forum to focus on the amount of sugar when classifying food and drinks under the Health Star Rating System, which is designed to help customers understand the health benefits of various packaged and processed foods.
While the change has prompted fierce debate, according to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), nutritionists and health professionals note that eating an orange and drinking a glass of orange juice are two wholly different things, as the juice allows the body to take in sugar far more quickly because of the absence of the ameliorating effect of fiber.
As ADA Victoria CEO associate professor Matthew Hopcraft points out, there are many problems with consuming oranges in juice form.
“The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that we eat whole fruits, and they don’t recommend that fruit juices can replace whole fruits,” Hopcraft said.
“In fact, they say fruit juice should only be drunk occasionally, as it is acidic and can increase the risk of dental erosion. Fruit juice also has less fiber and other healthy nutrients than the whole fruit provides,” he said.
“So don’t be tricked by industry claims that fruit juice is a part of a healthy diet to help meet your daily fruit intake,” Hopcraft said.
The decision to change the rating for orange juice, which Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend shouldn’t exceed more than a half cup per day, is important when you consider how almost 48% of people take in too much free sugar in what they drink and eat, the ADA said.
Rethink Sugary Drink, a partnership between health and community organizations that includes the ADA, is seeking to change the way people perceive and consume sugary drinks. For example, its Full of Crap campaign targets young men and their beverage choices.