The Juice on Juice
Juice has become a controversial menu option. While CACFP, NSLP, and NYC food standards all allow 100% juice, it must be limited, and it is not highly recommended. Fresh fruit is preferable because fiber is still intact. Once a fruit is juiced, it loses its fiber and many of its nutrition benefits. Fresh fruit is unprocessed, preserving the natural vitamins and minerals found in the flesh and peel. Once this fruit is turned into juice, the pasteurization process destroys the key health benefits that you would otherwise obtain from fresh fruit.
It is also important to keep in mind that when you are serving an older population, juice is high in carbohydrates. If your demographic serves diabetics, juice should be limited and diabetics should be educated on how juice can contribute to their carbohydrate intake. One 4oz glass of juice contains ~15g of carbohydrates and no fiber. When consumed in excess, juice packs in the calories with little nutritional benefit- also known as “empty calories”.
New CACFP meal patterns state that “Pasteurized full-strength juice may only be used to meet the vegetable or fruit requirement at one meal, including snack, per day”.
NSLP only allows 100% fruit juice, and it can only be counted towards 1/2 the fruit serving requirement for that meal.
We understand that many programs like to incorporate juice into their menus, it’s important to understand the impact that excess juice can have on your health. I always like to promote fresh fruit, it’s better for you overall!