As far as healthy drinks go, few are more popular in the United States than a glass of orange juice with breakfast. The average American consumes about 2.7 gallons of “OJ” per year, and about 2/3 of limited-service restaurants offer it as a beverage choice.
When properly made (especially fresh-squeezed and organic), orange juice can be extraordinarily healthy for a wide variety of reasons.
It’s rich in vitamin C, fiber, and contains antioxidants that help protect and nourish the skin among many other benefits.
But if you drink orange juice in the United States, you may be getting far more than you bargained for — a surprisingly high dose of one of the most controversial chemicals in the world, one that happens to be linked to cancer, and also serves as the main ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship herbicide.
And unfortunately for the many thousands of people who drink them every day, the most popular brands in the United States are among those most affected.
Lab Tests Reveal Glyphosate in Orange Juice Samples
The grassroots non-profit Moms Across America has made a remarkable impact in the world of food activism, helping to expose the Monsanto Company’s link to the American Pediatrics Association (they’ve since been given the boot) and keeping its members up-to-date on how to protect their families from toxic chemicals in the food supply.
Recently, the organization made waves with an announcement that caught the attention of orange juice drinkers everywhere: samples of five major U.S. brands tested positive in lab results for glyphosate.
The chemical, deemed a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in March 2015, was found in amounts ranging from 4.43 parts per billion to 26.05 ppb by the group’s tests.
As noted in this post from Moms Across America, research has shown that as little as 0.1 ppb of glyphosate is capable of destroying beneficial gut bacteria. Repeated exposure is capable of weakening the immune system and potentially leading to a host of health problems down the road.
The post also included research that glyphosate may stimulate breast cancer at amounts as little as 1 part per trillion, and that the American diet far exceeds government standards for most people, especially children (who are most at-risk considering their developing bodies).
The five major brands that tested positive according to lab tests are:
1. Tropicana, with amounts of 26.05 ppb and 25.12 ppb in glyphosate residues. Both samples were purchased from Target stores.
2. Minute Maid, with amounts of 13.54 and 12.65 ppb, purchased from Jack in the Box stores.
3. Stater Bros., with amounts of 4.93 and 4.43 ppb, purchased at the stores of the same name.
4. Signature Farms (sold at Safeway), with amounts of 6.33 and 5.78 ppb, purchased at Vons stores.
5. Kirkland, with amounts of 5.96 and 4.33 ppb, purchased at Costco stores.
What It Means for Shoppers
Considering that organic alternatives like Uncle Matt’s are widely available, it’s almost always a good idea to pay a little extra in order to avoid the potential contamination of glyphosate and other harmful substances in non-organic orange juice.
In addition to glyphosate, numerous orange juice companies may contain additives including synthetic vitamins (in an attempt to make up those lost due to processing and pasteurization), as well as so-called “flavor packs” that are likely to be chemically altered and are not required to be listed on product labels.
Both Simply Orange (from Coca Cola) and Tropicana have been sued over these “chemically enhanced flavor packs;” yet another reason why health conscious consumers should think twice before buying them.
What Happens Next?
While organic orange juice and organic oranges are available at many health food stores, the unfortunate fact is that the vast majority of Americans still consume chemically-laden orange juice from the aforementioned companies, including unmarked brands at the grocery store that likely contain glyphosate and other toxic chemicals as well.
To make matters more pressing, the (mostly chemically-treated) citrus growing industry is currently dealing with a bacteria-based “citrus greening” disease that may one day lead to the introduction of genetically engineered (GMO) oranges, which could bring with them a host of other potential health and environmental issues.
In order to help pave the way for change, Moms Across America is urging concerned citizens to contact each of the five companies listed above in order to request that they switch to organic and regenerative agriculture-based methods in the future.
It’s a tall order at this current moment in our food system’s history, but simply voicing your opinion can make a huge difference down the line in helping to change the system.
For more information on how to contact these companies, as well as additional info on glyphosate contamination and safety studies, you can check out the full article from Moms Across America by clicking on this link. The Florida Citrus organization also released a response to the findings that can be read here.
Until then, do your best to steer clear of these five brands, buy organic, and spread the word to health conscious friends who would prefer to keep glyphosate out of their breakfast beverages.
This article was first written in May 2018 and updated in July 2020. For more information on which hummus brands were found to be tainted with glyphosate (including some organic ones), check our our new article on the most recent lab results by clicking here.