Consumers of food and drink are protected by a range of UK and European legislation. There are specific laws relating to the composition and labelling of fruit juices, fruit nectars and similar juices. The primary law is found in the Fruit Juices and Fruit Nectars (England) Regulations 2013 (these regulations apply only in England).
The Regulations apply to fruit juices and fruit nectars and similar drinks intended for human consumption, and are sold to consumers and catering establishments. They ensure consistency over the composition of fruit drinks and similar, and set out specific labelling requirements.
The following products are regulated by the Regulation:
- Fruit juice
- Fruit juice from concentrate
- Concentrated fruit juice
- Water extracted fruit juice
- Dehydrated/powdered fruit juice
- Fruit nectar
The Regulations define what amounts to a regulated product and set out the criteria to be met before a product can lawfully be sold as such. These regulated product names can be used in the name of the juice where:
- It is clear that the specified product in relation to which the regulated product name is used is only an ingredient of the drink
- It is clear that the drink is not, and does not contain, the regulated product
- The regulated product name is used in a customary name for another food product and its use is not liable to mislead the consumer
The sale of a regulated product is prohibited unless the name of the product indicates the kind or kinds of fruit from which it has come. Where a list of names of fruits is provided, it must be set out in descending order by volume of the juices or purées of each kind of fruit as indicated in the list of ingredients.
There are specific requirements in relation to each regulated product. For example, in the case of water extracted fruit juice, it must be traded using the name “water extracted [x] juice” as the name of the product.
There are separate labelling requirements for food and drink products. In the labelling of fruit juices and related products, the labelling must (in addition to indicating the kinds of fruits used) indicate whether extra pulp and cells have been added to a fruit juice; and indicate whether there is any added lemon juice, lime juice or acidifying agents in a concentrated fruit juice that is not intended for delivery to the final consumer
If a fruit juice has been made from a mixture of fruit juice and fruit juice from concentrate, it must indicate that it is partially made from concentrate/s.
Fruit juices must not be labelled with a no added sugar claim; and sugar must not be added to fruit juices. The term ‘pure’ on fruit juices should only be used where nothing has been added to the juice, though it can be used for juices reconstituted with water. Terms such as ‘pure’ or 100% juice are allowed where additives or additional ingredients, such as lemon juice and ascorbic acid are added.
In addition, where no added sugar claims (or similar) is made on fruit nectars and sugars are naturally present in the fruit nectar, the words “contains naturally occurring sugars” must also appear on the label. Note that there are minimum juice and purée content requirements for fruit nectars which vary depending on the fruit.
Where sugar has been added to a regulated product, the words “sweetened” or “with added sugar” should be added to the reserved description on the mark or label, along with the maximum quantity of added sugar, calculated as dry matter and expressed in grams per litre.
Fruit juices and nectars must also be labelled with the appropriate best before or use by dates.
Permitted raw and other ingredients
Where regulated products under the Regulations are sold, only certain raw materials are permitted in the preparation of that product. These are as follows:
- Fruit of any type
- Fruit purée
- Concentrated fruit purée (the product obtained from fruit purée as a result of removing water content)
- Certain types of sugars in some circumstances
- Pulp or cells
There are further ingredients which are also permitted, including:
- Vitamins and minerals
- Lemon juice and concentrated lemon juice
- Certain enzymes
- Edible gelatine
- Certain chemically inert filtration adjuvant and precipitation agents
Under the Regulations, these treatment processes are permitted:
- mechanical extraction
- physical processes including in-line water extraction and diffusion of the edible parts of fruit
- in some circumstances, desulfitation by physical means in the case of the production of grape juice
Contravention of the Regulations
Selling fruit juices, fruit nectars and similar drinks in breach of the Regulations may lead to the offender being served with an improvement notice by the local food authority. If an improvement notice is not complied with, a criminal charge could follow with a potential fine of up to £5,000 on conviction.