The Scientific Reason Some Fruit Juices Contain Alcohol

Drinking juice is a great way to get in an extra serving of your favorite fruits and vegetables. WebMD notes that many fruit juices are packed with the essential vitamins and minerals you would get from eating fruits (so long as you avoid drinks with tons of added sugars). The site states that a glass of orange juice is a great way to start the day, as it is packed with vitamin C, and some brands have even added vitamin D and calcium. It also reports that grape juice also has flavonoids and resveratrol — antioxidants found in the skin of grapes (per a 2014 study published in Nutrients).

While grape juice and wine are both made from grapes, wine is fermented to increase its alcohol content, while grape juice is just given some added sugar, according to Surely. Despite juice being a childhood favorite drink, it could still contain trace amounts of alcohol, according to Baby2Body. But don't panic — just because some fruit juices contain small amounts of alcohol, that doesn't mean you can expect a buzz from your next glass of grape juice.

Which juices contain alcohol?

In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, researchers found that orange, apple, and grape juices all contain small amounts of ethanol. While that may sound concerning, ethanol — or ethyl alcohol — is a "Generally Recognized As Safe" ingredient, per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The researchers tested a variety of juice brands and found that grape juice had the highest levels of ethanol, with a range of 0.29 to 0.86 grams per liter. Orange juice ranged from 0.16 to 0.73 grams per liter, while the apple juice varied a little more from 0.06 to 0.66 grams per liter.

The study states that fruit juices are prone to fermentation both during and after their production process. The process of alcoholic fermentation occurs when yeasts convert sugars into ethanol and is the basis for creating beer and wine, per ScienceDirect. Though the findings of the study note that ingesting trace amounts of ethanol in fruit juice won't have the same effect as drinking a glass of wine, it is important to note if you are trying to avoid any alcohol consumption.