Finding the real juice in your 'juice'

LOS ANGELES Camy Sleeman's kids love juice. But when Camy buys juice at the store, she almost has to be a detective to figure out if she's really getting real juice.

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"I think you really have to do your homework in terms of reading the labels and seeing what is within each bottle of juice you buy," said Camy.

Juice sports all sorts of labels these days -- "light juice," "juice beverage," and "juice cocktail," just to name a few. Letters from Consumer Reports readers prompted Jamie Hirsh to take a closer look.

"One reader wrote, 'Boy, was I duped.' She bought what she thought was real juice, and it actually contained no juice at all," said Hirsch, who works for Consumer Reports.

Two labels to look for so you don't get duped are "100 percent juice" or "100 percent pure."

"These mean that you're getting pure juice," explains Hirsch. "But you still want to read the label. Often juices are actually a blend. And a lot of times you'll see that apple or grape juice is actually the first ingredient -- so you could end up getting more of these juices than the featured juice that you actually want."

If you see juice "cocktail," "beverage," or "drink," that's a red flag, because these are less than 100 percent juice.

"These drinks can contain as little as five percent juice. Water and sweeteners - like high fructose corn syrup - often make up the rest," said Hirsch.

And what exactly is "light" juice?

"Some big juice companies, including Tropicana, Welch's, and Ocean Spray, have come out with 'light' versions of their juices, which they tout as having less sugar and fewer calories," said Hirsch. "These are often regular juice diluted with water."

That's something you can do yourself - and save money, too - with the 100 percent real juice you've bought.

As for 100 percent juice products that are blended with apple or grape juice, representatives at Tropicana and Ocean Spray told Consumer Reports that apple and grape juice add sweetness and make tarter juices, such as cranberry and pomegranate, more palatable.


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