President's Comment Nutrition Facts - Pure Fruit Juices

President's Comment : Nutrition Facts Labeling Program 2006
by Keith Wallace, Black River Juice

We applaud Health Canada's action in bringing mandatory nutrition labelling to the Canadian marketplace. We agree that consumers need this information to make informed choices about the food they eat.

It is worth mentioning, however, that the nutrients covered by the legislation give the consumer a dim picture of the nutritional profile of fruit juices. While the so called macro nutrients like carbohydrate, sugars, fibre etc. are extremely valuable, especially to diabetics and those concerned with their caloric intake, the true value and nutritional richness of fruit juice is not really evidenced by these nutrients.

For example, only two vitamins, A and C are included. If a particular juice happens to be low in these, it can look nutritionally uninteresting, an appearance that might not be warranted.

The nutrients that contribute to the real richness of fruit juice are called phyto nutrients, and include anti oxidant compounds among others.

The field of phyto nutrients is a new area of study for health and nutrition practitioners. The therapeutic value of various fruit juices, based on their content of phyto nutrients, is widely acknowledged, but not always fully understood. Needless to say, phyto nutrients are not included in the standard Nutrition Facts.

We ourselves are not qualified to discuss phyto nutrients in detail, but many sources of information are available. We especially like the down to earth writings of Dr Andrew Weil and urge interested readers to obtain his books or others, to get a clearer picture of the nutritional value of fruit juices.

While some of our larger competitors are trying to include some phyto nutrients on an optional basis, we at Black River have found this a costly prospect, demanding significant resources and requiring solutions to large problems. The room available on the labels themselves , with requirements for bilingual presentation, tends to preclude including anything but the bare essentials. ( Its worth noting that examples we see of phyto nutrient values tend to be on American-based brands who are not meeting Canadian rules for bilingual info--its amazing how much you can say when you only do so in one language! ). In addition, the testing programs are extremely costly and can only be undertaken by very large brands. Last, many layers of regulation exist over nutrient claims that must be carefully followed, or labels might be found to be not in compliance.

As time goes on we will try to address this issue, but for the time being, completing the most basic requirements of the program will be a major challenge for us over the next year or so.

We hope that our presentation of Nutrition Facts on our website is concise and easily usable. Please note that we have done separate charts for our pure juices, and our juice blends ( nectars ). Check the product name carefully that you wish to evaluate, and make sure you are looking on the correct chart. If in doubt, look at the ingredients list. The pure juices have only one ingredient, the blends\nectars have several.

We continue our program of revising all of our product labels to include nutrition facts, and expect to finish in 2007. We apologize that a few products have not yet been analyzed, values will be inserted as soon as they are available.