Last week, after really enjoying Happy Planet Vitamin C Smoothie, I sent Happy Planet a really random inquiry letter about the processes. My friends made fun of me (a little.. only a little). But anyways, here is the reply I received!
You can view the original letter to Happy Planet here:
Thank you for contacting Happy Planet.
Some of the processes we used are company secrets, so we do not give out all the information on how we make our juices.
Almost all home juicers use centrifugal force to extract the juice from the mash of the fruit or vegetable, this process introduces oxygen that immediately begins to break down the colour and stability of the juice. Sunlight and warm temperatures add to this degradation.
Happy Planet’s unique process ensures a longer shelf life by making sure that as little air and sunlight as possible are introduced to the product, in addition to keeping all ingredients chilled at 2 degrees Celsius.
Our premium juices are also minimally processed (flash pasteurized) so they retain their fresh flavour and maximum nutritional benefits. We never ever add any preservatives or additives. Keeping a cold chain from start to finish is the final critical step to ensure our juices maintain their quality.
Our Organic Fresh Chilled Juice line is 100% pure organic juice featuring creative combinations of organic concentrated juice and organic not-from-concentrate purees – this means that when some of the fruit is processed it is squeezed and then concentrated by extracting the water. The juice is then blended with the purees, more water is added, and it is pasteurized and packaged. Our Fresh Smoothies are made by squeezing, blending, pasteurizing and then bottling the juice.
Ascorbic acid is another name for Vitamin C. We add ascorbic acid to replenish any Vitamin C lost during pasteurization (heating).
Flavour and aroma are composed of complex mixtures of chemicals found in nature. Organic flavours are made from these chemical compounds naturally found in foods and plant materials. They do not contain synthetic compounds derived from non-food or non-plant origins.
Organic flavours have not been produced using any artificial or synthetic chemicals or anything damaging to crops or the environment. They contain only natural ingredients, normally a part of the fruit, organic agave syrup, water, and some organic alcohol.
Their letter definitely listed a lot of facts.
To see how much of my questions they answered, to my best knowledge that I can understand anyways, I have conveniently outlined and organized them here.
One question I asked was about vitamin compensation. Since Happy Planet uses flash pasteurization (they also mentioned this in their response), the majority of important enzymes and vitamins are eliminated. To compensate, Happy Planet states that they add ascorbic acid to “replenish the Vitamin C lost during pasteurization”. A great way to market a health drink to consumers is to emphasize it’s Vitamin C content. Many of us will agree, that drinking Vitamin C or taking Vitamin C supplements is beneficial for our overall health, as well as being a great antioxidant.
However, after doing some research, many studies show the opposite benefits of Ascorbic Acid.
1) Ascorbic acid is a known synthetic form of Vitamin C, even though in many cases companies use is as a ‘natural addition’ to juices and is marketed to others as natural Vitamin C. It was interesting for me to find that since ascorbic acid is not normally naturally occurring, taking it out of it’s original natural occurring environment isn’t as beneficial as it would seem. How I understand ascorbic acid is that it is a naturally occuring component in the Vitamin C Complex. The Vitamin C complex is made up of many components, one of them being ascorbic acid. For instance, Vitamin C is made up of a bunch of other components such as Tyrosinase, P Factors, J Factors (and other additions that I know nothing about) and ascorbic acid. In fact, the main purpose of ascorbic acid is to help the preservation of Vitamin C as a whole. As quoted from VitaminCFoundation.org, “It is much like a preservative in processed foods, providing them with a longer shelf life.” However, when it comes to using ascorbic acid as a substitute for Vitamin C (in the hopes that it will provide the same health and nutritional benefits), it proves to be deficient.
2) Studies that have studied scurvy found more success curving the side affects by giving patients foods that had the Vitamin C complex, such as peppers, lime, or lemon juice. But when providing patients with the extracted ascorbic acid, positive results that helped alleviate the symptoms were not found. Furthermore, other vitamin C deficient diseases were not cured simply by giving patients ascorbic acid. Isolated, this synthetic form of Vitamin C does not have the same function and benefits as giving patients Vitamin C as a whole.
Therefore, I can conclude that in order to keep their juices lasting longer, Happy Planet adds ascorbic acid. From my research, ascorbic acid is a natural preservative in the Vitamin C complex, and is actually not beneficial to human health as an isolated component. The added ascorbic acid is marketed as a ‘natural’ form of Vitamin C, because the flash pasteurization process depleted most of the original Vitamin C in the heating process. My next question is, after the flash pasteurization is completed, how much of the Vitamin C (or other vitamins) are retained after the process? This was still not answered in my letter.
The company also did not answer questions about how much of the raw enzymes are maintained, the amount of nutritional value of the Vitamin C that is maintained after the flash pasteurization, how long they store their fruit juice before shipping, as well as other questions that really test their process.
In response, I sent Happy Planet this e-mail. I am not looking forward to their response! My energy level went downhill from there, as I was pretty tired from researching.