24 January 2008

Nutrition Fictions

January 24, 2008

PepsiCo, Inc.
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577

Dear Pepsi Employee,

I’m writing about the bottle of, uh, beverage I bought earlier this evening. In Penn Station, I was looking for something healthy, and in a refrigerator case on the other side of the counter in one of the little shops, I saw a bottle of “Ruby Red Grapefruit Dole 100% Juice.”

Only after I had paid and been handed my purchase was I able to read the small print at the bottom of the label, written in white on light green: “Ruby Red Grapefruit Flavored Juice Blend”

This discovery led me to the ingredient label, where I found a list including water, concentrates of grape and apple juice in addition to grapefruit juice, water, and five other ingredients.* One of these is carmine, which I learned from Wikipedia is “is a pigment of a bright red color obtained from the carminic acid produced by some scale insects, such as the cochineal and the Polish cochineal.”

I’m a vegan.** This is not a good discovery. And it really makes me wonder what might be in the “natural flavor” listed a little farther down on the label.

The “100% juice” claim is repeated in two other places on the bottle’s label. I do assume that this is legal, in accordance with some carefully worded, international agri-business-approved law, but whether it’s accurate is another issue altogether.

I would respectfully ask that you clearly label the juice products to which you add animal products and other non-juice elements. I would also respectfully ask that you print the Pepsi name in more prominent type: had I known this product was one of yours, I would not have been fooled into buying it.

Thank you for your time.

Heide Estes

*The complete list: filtered water, grape juice concentrate, ruby red grapefruit juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, pectin, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), carmine (color), citric acid, natural flavor.
**That means if it comes from an animal, I don't eat it.