Dear 100 Hour Board,
I have a question about food labeling.
I was recently looking at a can of V8 (original) and it says 100% Vegetable Juice on the front. I take this to mean that this can contains nothing but vegetable juice. Yet when you read the ingredients label, it says that the ingredients are VEGETABLE JUICE (WATER AND CONCENTRATED JUICES OF TOMATOES, CARROTS, CELERY, BEETS, PARSLEY, LETTUCE, WATERCRESS, SPINACH), SALT, VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID), BETA CAROTENE, NATURAL FLAVORING, CITRIC ACID.
If other things are added, then how can they say 100% juice?
Dear blame it on my juice,
Interesting question. The US Food & Drug administration has a specific code that regulates this, subpart B Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. It's a little wordy, and my legalese isn't stellar, but I'll do by best to give you a concentrated summary that 100% answers your question.
Here is our most important bit:
If the beverage contains 100 percent juice and also contains non-juice ingredients that do not result in a diminution of the juice soluble solids or, in the case of expressed juice, in a change in the volume, when the 100 percent juice declaration appears on a panel of the label that does not also bear the ingredient statement, it must be accompanied by the phrase "with added ___," the blank filled in with a term such as "ingredient(s)," "preservative," or "sweetener," as appropriate (e.g., "100% juice with added sweetener"), except that when the presence of the non-juice ingredient(s) is declared as a part of the statement of identity of the product, this phrase need not accompany the 100 percent juice declaration.
Aight, so when non-juice ingredients (salt, ascorbic acid, natural flavoring, etc.) don't lead to a lesser amount of juice soluble solids in the final product--basically, no lessening of the essence of your fruits--then it needs to be declared, as it has been in the ingredients list you've shared with me.
Wait, but how is the percent level of juice measured? This is determined by degrees Brix, the amount of sugars dissolved in the liquid that is our juice. 1 gram of sugar in 100 grams of water would be 1 degree Brix. 2 grams sugar/100 g water would be 2 degrees Brix, ans so on.
The amount of sugar present in a juice, or Brix, we've learned, is a useful way of determining how much actual fruit/vegetable is all up in yo' beverage. For apple juice from concentrate to be considered 100% juice, for example, it would need to be at 11.5 Brix, or 11.5 grams of sugar/100 g water. If it had less than that, it wouldn't be able to be considered 100% juice.
There's a whole table that describes the Brix degrees for dozens of fruits and to be considered 100% juice, ranging from a low of 3.1 for celery to a swarthy 22.0 for banananas.
The three that are relevant to us, of course, are carrots (8.0), tomato (5.0), and celery (3.1). The other ingredients you've mentioned aren't specified here, but the FDA adds:
If there is no Brix level specified in [the fancy-shmancy Table of Wonder], the labeled percentage of that juice from concentrate in a juice or juice beverage will be calculated on the basis of the soluble solids content of the single-strength (unconcentrated) juice used to produce such concentrated juice.
It doesn't specify the exact rules for blended juices (from concentrate) like yours, which is probably so companies like V8 aren't required to disclose their trade secret recipe for disgusting juice to competitors. Since the first ingredient listed is tomatoes, it probably means the Brix of your juice must be at least a 5.0. As for the added ingredients you mentioned? As long as they don't lower the Brix degrees below that threshold, your V8 is legally
Also, everything extra you listed naturally occurs in the vegetables themselves. Salt comes in pretty much all plants (though, they probably did add some). Tomatoes have a lot of vitamin C and citric acid. Beta Carotene is the red-orange pigment of carrots. Seems to me like they're warning you about what vegetable juice already has in it. The only thing I can't explain for you is "natural flavoring" but I'm sure the amount in there is negligible.