01.Processing aids and flavours
Golden Circle, which is owned by Heinz Australia, has come under fire from the Hindu community after a consumers' inquiry revealed that beef products and alcohol are used in the production of its juices.
Sonjoy Chakraborty, from Melbourne, wrote to Heinz Australia after he heard that ingredients like beef and alcohol could be found in some fruit drinks, and was shocked by the response he received.
The company replied saying that the Golden Circle long-life range was made using a clarifying agent derived from beef and that alcohol-based flavours were used across the drinks range.
"This is wrong and unethical," Mr Chakraborty told GoodFood. "We are Hindu, beef is prohibited, alcohol is prohibited. But also I don't want to give anything that contains alcohol to my kids."
In a statement to Fairfax Media, Heinz said that "Flavours, including alcohol-based flavours, are used across the Golden Circle and Original Juice Co. juice and drink ranges."
"Unfortunately, none of the ambient Golden Circle juice range would be halal suitable as they are made using either non-halal clarifying agents or contain alcohol-based flavours," the statement said.
Heinz Australia spokeswoman Carolyn Fox said that a beef-derived gelatine was generally used to remove the "cloudiness" in its apple juice. Juice was filtered during the manufacturing process and the final product did not contain gelatine.
Fox said 'very small amounts of alcohol' were combined with concentrated flavours and this was designed to keep them 'stable, clean and crisp'.
"Alcohol has the functional purpose of allowing the flavour to disperse more readily in liquids," she said. "It evaporates from the juice during the pasteurisation process when heat is applied and if any remains in juices afterwards, it is so small that it is below detectable levels."
Despite upsetting members of the Hindu community, some of whom have called for Heinz to improve transparency in its juice labelling, the company is complying with regulatory standards. It's not mandatory for manufacturers to label gelatine when it's used as a processing aid, or list ingredients of permitted flavours.
The Food Standards Code does, however, require manufacturers to declare the presence of the following processing aids or components of processing aids:
- Added sulphites in concentrations of 10mg/kg or more
- Cereals containing gluten and their products
- Crustacea and their products
- Egg and egg products
- Fish and fish products
- Milk and milk products
- Peanuts and peanut products
- Sesame seeds and sesame seed products
- Soybeans and soybean products
- Tree nuts and tree nut products other than coconut from the fruit of the palm Cocos nucifera