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Organic Tricalcium Phosphate From Trader Joe's?

I picked up a carton of organic orange juice from a Trader Joe’s grocery store yesterday. I wanted to get organic juice because I know how destructive non-organic agriculture can be.

There were two kinds of organic orange juice available. One had no pulp, which didn’t seem very healthy, given that the pulp in orange juice provides dietary fiber. So, I picked the alternative: Trader Joe’s organic orange juice “calcium added”.

trader joes orange juice with tricalcium phosphateWhen I opened up the juice back at home and had a glass, I was disappointed to discover that the calcium added juice didn’t have pulp either. My assumption that it would, because it wasn’t marked “no pulp”, was not well founded.

I started to consider more about how that carton of juice was marked. It was called organic, but the label said that calcium was added. Is that an organic practice, to add calcium to orange juice?

Looking on the label, I read the following ingredients: “Organic orange juice, Tricalcium phosphate”. Hold on. Stop the breakfast. The juice is marked organic, but the tricalcium phosphate isn’t marked organic. So, is the Trader Joe’s orange juice really organic?

Organic food is supposed to be free of synthetic (human created) chemical treatments. Tricalcium phosphate sounds like a synthetic chemical, but it isn’t necessarily. Tricalcium phosphate occurs in nature. It’s found in rocks in places like Morocco, and it’s also obtained from the bones of animals like cows and pigs.

I can’t find any information about where exactly the tricalcium phosphate in Trader Joe’s orange juice comes from, but if it comes from animal bones, that means that my juice wouldn’t be vegetarian, or at least not vegan. It’s not marked as organic tricalcium phosphate, and so I want to know whether the Trader Joe’s tricalcium phosphate comes from cows or pigs that were not organically reared. If that were to be the case, that orange juice would definitely not be organic.

However, if the tricalcium phosphate Trader Joe’s used came from the ground, well, I can’t find any reason to conclude that the mineral disqualifies the juice as organic, strictly speaking. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it would truly be beneficial for the health of those who drink it. Arsenic occurs as naturally as tricalcium phosphate, after all, and arsenic is not usually thought of as a health food.

I’ve got a little bone to pick with Trader Joe’s in terms of its labeling, though, saying that the orange juice has “calcium added”. It’s true that the calcium triphosphate has calcium in it, but it has other elements too: Oxygen and phosphorus. You don’t see the label reading “phosphorus added”, or “oxygen added”, but calcium triphosphate has more oxygen atoms in it that it has calcium atoms.

There’s a reason that Trader Joe’s just didn’t come right out and put “Tricalcium phosphate added” on the front of the orange juice package. They know tricalcium phosphate doesn’t sound like it fits with the ideal of organic food as easily as simple calcium does. It seems to be playing around the edges of what’s allowable within the definition of organic food.

Aesthetically, the Trader Joe’s organic orange juice with calcium added tastes like, well, like it has calcium added… At least, it tastes like it has something funny added to it. I can’t honestly say that I know what calcium – tricalcium phosphate – really tastes like. What I can say is that the orange juice tastes not quite right, and that’s the best reason of all for me to decide against buying any more in the future.

28 comments to Organic Tricalcium Phosphate From Trader Joe's?

  • Kevin

    I think you are supposed to get usable calcium from spinach and kale.

    “RP Heaney and CM Weaver Creighton University, Omaha

    Absorption of calcium from intrinsically labeled kale was measured in 11 normal women and compared in these same subjects with absorption of calcium from labeled milk. The average test load was 300 mg. Fractional calcium absorption from kale averaged 0.409 +/- 0.101 (means +/- SD) and from milk, 0.321 +/- 0.089 (P less than 0.025). In contrast with the poor absorption previously reported for spinach calcium, kale, a low-oxalate vegetable, exhibits excellent absorbability for its calcium. ”

    now MAGNESIUM! there is a chemical to take, and you need a bit of calcium with it to process.

  • Sarah

    Even if the tricalcium phosphate is not organic the juice could still be considered organic because legally only 95% of the product has to be certified organic in order to meet labeling laws standards. I have also found by calling company 800-numbers listed on the packaging (often in the store on my phone) you can find out almost every time if additives are vegan friendly or not.

  • trina

    i think what we have here is something, made out of nothing. lets focus on the real issues in life please.

    • Dangers of Tricalcium Phosphate?
      Tricalcium phosphate or phosphate salts are found in many foods as a flavor enhancer. Researchers believe there are dangers associated with ingesting phosphate salts over a period of time. It is reported in patients with elevated concentrations a correlation with heart disease and chronic renal failure. Researchers are calling for more in depth labeling on foods containing phosphate salts to allow the consumer to make a more educated decision when purchasing products containing these additives. These salts are found in foods as a preservative and they intensify flavors.
      Reference: http://www.foodnavigator.com

  • First of all, tricalcium phosphate is a naturally occuring mineral that is found in bone matrix and necessary for bone calcification. It is also found in multivitamin supplements. You should be more concerned with the natural and artificial sweeteners added to juices that increase caloric value, but do not add nutritional value. You are right , Trina. There are more important issues in life than the chemistry of fruit juices.

  • kipster

    @Trina, Drink
    your Koolaid and move along folks… nothing to see here.

  • dr x

    calcium hardens the arteries.

  • jdjdjdjjdjd

    several products have this, it is a anti caking agent generally used, you will find it in all kinds of bad chips, not sure why they would use it, it usually comes from bone dust. I personally don’t consume anything with these anti caking, or gum stuff in them. They are cutting corners by using it, trying to give it longer shelf life. I generally do not shop at Trader Joe’s anymore once I started picking apart a lot of their labels… a good deal of their branded items have phosphates, nitrates, carrageneaan, etc. etc. Better off sticking to a co-op market or whole foods, even if the price is higher. I hate having to check labels like that and trader joe’s carries a bunch of interesting items, but a lot of it has additives, isn’t exactly healthy, and their produce is not that good.

  • jdjdjdjjdjd

    also, you should definitely be more concerned with what is in the food, and what kind of container it comes in vs if it is organic or conventional… there is plenty of quality conventional food that just isn’t certified…while there is organic stuff (as what you have found) with additives, nitrates, fillers, phosphates, or in cans that have BPA containing plastic leaching into the food, eden’s organic is the only one I know of that has non bpa lining cans, or what you are cooking on such as (teflon) …

  • Annette

    You sound like a bit of an misinformed person. Am afraid to use stronger language, don’t want to get cut.

  • Annette, your grammar isn’t very good, is it?

  • Amy

    Whole Soy & Co. – Blueberry Organic Yogurt – sold at whole foods.
    – I just found the same ingredient in my yogurt. the reason I looked more closely at the ingredients is that it tastes aweful. I googled tricalcium phospate and found this blog. I couldn’t agree more that its deceptive. The packaging says certified vegan, and verified non-GMO. Non-the-less I threw it out after that first spoonful due to the unappetizing taste and the mere thought of the possibility of raod kill in my yogurt.

  • mee mii

    this is an important issue. yes there are more important things in life than this issue. but hes not talking about other things..he talking about this. i dont care what law says it only has to be 95 percent organic or not. any one who care about their health would be rightly concerned about things like this. its really not organic if you add certain things, companies pass these products off on people who dont know what organic really is,obviously this caught his eye, rightly so….and if you want gmo pigs and cows fed gmo feed their whole life sickly and confined to their own fecies then drink up. if its natural occuring then there would be no reason not too put that info on the label. i think better companies carry a better standard and thats what you have to find, if not you gotta break out your own juicer and do it frresh which is delicious. still it sure would be nice to find a decent drink made well for when life gets busy which is always. meryy christmas happy new year.

  • Lisa

    Doggone it…I’ve been trying to stay away from dairy since I’m allergic to it . I’ve had a hard time finding beverages without sugar or other additives. I grabbed some almond milk and it said contains: almonds. When I looked closer it also has dipotassium phosphate and tricalcium phosphate. I read recently that calcium supplements aren’t good for you, they’re absorbed differently than calcium in food. It seems that these are added to boost the calcium content and make it smoother but who knows how they’re absorbed. I guess it’s best to make your own and read the real small print. Eating a healthy diet isn’t a small issue, it can affect every aspect of your life!

  • As I was reading the ingredients on a label of Morton Salt Substitute one was Tricalcium Phosphate, so I looked it up, and what I would like to know being a Muslim and not eating pork, is there any way to know if it is pig or cow or whatever?

  • The Truth

    Well it is interesting that you say “Bone to pick” As TCP Tricalcium Phosphate is derived from bone!. But seriously, I hate to say this but I have discovered that Trader Joes is a shady company, they frequently mix message labeling, like your TCP – this chemical is an inorganic substance (even thought it may be derived from bone because it is refined back to its original constuents), they leave out, key information, use clever marketing with adjacent products that are cheaper, and near the Organic version. Most of their products unless local are inferior and overpriced. A good example is their wines, like Costco they have special deals with companies; you’re familiar with a product elswhere -it looks the same at TJ but its not. TJ’s not worh it for me.

  • Anonymous

    Buy your own oranges and squeeze. No worries.

  • Biologist

    Actually, be happy that it contains calcium phosphate. Your body need phosphorus just as much as it needs calcium. The ratio to keep the calcium in bone and not in arteries and other unwanted places, is about 1.6 calcium to 1 phosphorus on a molar basis. That is exactly what you get with TCP.
    Organic labeling requires 95% of the contents to be certified organic; TCP in the oj is less than 1%, so to say that you can taste it is probably your mind telling something that is not really possible.
    As Anonymous said, get your own oranges and squeeze. That way you know exactly what is in the glass.

  • Annie

    Why shouldn’t calcium carbonate be used instead?

  • Bill

    This discussion thread provides a compelling argument for why no one should be allowed out of school without a decent chemistry course under his belt.

  • Tricalcium phosphate is a product of dear old 3M.

  • Alecia

    We drink fruit juices nearly every day of our life…how is this not important???

    I also have found this ingredient in my organic almond milk from whole foods. I’m very curious about this and other strange ingredients. I will continue researching. Thank you for your post.

  • Katsmeow

    Drinking juice is just about as bad for you as drinking a soda — loaded with sugar, no fiber to offset it. Eat your fruits, don’t drink them.

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