I came across Minute Maid Heart Wise® orange juice at my grocery store. It contains plant sterols to reduce cholesterol, and the label clearly states that the plant sterols are derived from highly refined oils like soybean and peanut. I just looked at the Minute Maid website for the U.S, and unfortunately that information is not disclosed on the site.
I visited Minute Maid’s Canadian site, which tells me about even more allergens than are disclosed on the juice carton: “Plant sterols used in Minute Maid Heart Wise are derived from highly refined vegetable oils including soybean, canola, sunflower, cottonseed, corn, and peanut.” (UPDATE 5 July 2012: This information has now been changed on the Minute Maid site. The page I quoted is no longer there, and the replacement page here unfortunately references the required Top 8 allergens only, peanut and soybean in this case, not the other potentially allergenic oils that may be used.) On the Canadian site, there’s also this:
“Because Plant Sterols may come from Peanuts, will I be allergic if I have a nut allergy?
… The highly refined soybean and peanut oils which are two sources of plant sterols are not considered allergenic foods. Highly refined oils do not contain protein residues at levels that are hazardous to allergic consumers.” (UPDATE 5 July 2012: This information has also been removed from the Minute Maid website.)
I am not in favor of using peanut oil or any other oil made from a substance to which you’re allergic. This sounds obvious, but it’s actually a controversial topic, since conflicting information exists saying that highly refined oils are GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe).
The Food Allergy Initiative says that “peanut protein is found in cold pressed, expressed, expelled, and extruded peanut oils. Highly processed peanut oil has been shown to be safe for the vast majority of individuals allergic to peanut. As the degree of processing of commercial peanut oil may be difficult to determine, avoidance is prudent.” You can read the full article by clicking here.
Also on the subject of peanut oil, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) states that “people with allergies to peanut can also experience reactions to the oil.” The full article was posted at http://www.aaaai.org/patients/topicofthemonth/0608/ but unfortunately it has now been removed. It should be noted that AAAAI also stated in the article that people allergic to soy can react to soybean oil.
In conclusion, in order not to expose yourself to your allergen, it’s best not to consume oils made from that allergen.
It says on Minute Maid’s Canadian website that Heart Wise orange juice looks a little different than regular orange juice. There are white specks in it, and it may leave a milky film on the glass. Please don’t rely on this visual cue. Because of fortified juices like this, we now need to check labels and make inquiries about the safety of juice.
At the moment, Minute Maid has only fortified orange juice. As the parent of a child highly allergic to peanuts, I hope this practice doesn’t spread to other juices too.
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