Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

Don’t Assume Similar Products Have the Same Ingredients

Our friend, Dana McCorvie, the Ingredient Inspector, scrutinizes product labels for changes and surprises in ingredients listings. This time, she looks at product line extensions where a manufacturer comes out with a similar product that plays on the popularity of the original one. But, when you check the ingredients of the fraternal twin, they are not always the same.

Example 1 – Minute Maid Lemonade


Minute Maid’s lemonade in cans has added chemicals and coloring compared to the version in cartons. But worse, while there is 12-percent real fruit juice in the regular product, the version in cans only has 3-percent juice.

Minute Maid Lemonade

Example 2 – Hi-C Orange Drink


If you buy juice boxes of Hi-C Orange Lavaburst at the supermarket, they actually contain some small amount of real juice, But if you order a glass of it at McDonald’s, that version has no real juice, almost 50-percent more sugar, and added chemicals and artificial colors!

Ingredient Inspector Hi-C

For more examples of products whose fraternal twin products are not like the original, please visit this special section for Consumer World and Mouse Print* readers at the Ingredient Inspector.

Share this story:
All comments are reviewed before being published, and may be edited. Comments that are off-topic, contain personal attacks, are political, or are otherwise inappropriate will be deleted.

12 thoughts on “Don’t Assume Similar Products Have the Same Ingredients”

  1. The differences are astounding. Not that I ever buy single cans, but I will certainly look at their ingredients and compare them with their larger look-alikes from now on. What rationale is there to add all those chemicals and dyes to cans?

    • The primary role of cans for the Coca-Cola Company is for distribution in their vending machines.

      PRESERVATIVES: The vast majority of vending machine inventory sits unrefrigerated for long periods of time and — once inside the machine — can sit for many weeks and months depending on its location. These storage realities led to the inclusion of multiple Chemical Preservatives to ensure the viability of the product as it waits to be consumed. Extended shelf life equates to optimized profits.

      JUICE CONTENT: The physical nature of the can necessitated a lower level of real Lemon Juice since this juice is highly acidic and naturally corrosive so it is able to slowly corrode the can itself.

      COLOR: As for the Artificial Color in only the can . . . we all know that when we see the color Yellow in Lemonade, it signals our brains that there is real Lemon contained therein. Since the Carton contains 12% real Lemon Juice it must have passed a consumer recognition test that it looks like Lemonade, whereas, with only a 3% juice content, the canned Lemonade required an added color to be recognized as Lemonade.

      Discover some Lemonades whose ingredients are closest to homemade:
      Neither money nor products are ever accepted to appear on the Closest To Homemade® list.

  2. A perfect example is the same products sold in the UK do not have the crap we have for ingredients. Many ingredients deemed safe for consumption in the US are deemed unhealthy and not fit for consumption in the UK. The same products have 2 different listed ingredients.

  3. Quite an eye-opener for me! The graphics are an outstanding way of getting the information across and they had to have taken a lot of work to produce, especially versus plain text. I now have Ingredient Inspector in my bookmarked places to visit, thank you!

    Regarding fountain drinks, I’d expect that difference as those are huge profit makers, as evidence by the free-for-all refills. Interesting to see the specific differences though.

    And by the way, I discovered two downsized (when I don’t know) items this weekend — Eckrich smoked sausage is 14 ounces, as are Goya pinto beans. (Publix)

    • Thank you so much for your kind and generous compliments, we are very grateful.

      We so appreciate the smart and insightful readers of ConsumerWorld.org and are excited to be sharing our information with such engaged consumers.

      Yes, you are right on with fountain drinks as being a huge profit maker. It is scary when you consider the sugar content of some of these beverages such as Mountain Dew (now branded as MTN DEW):

      Impressive eye on catching all those downsized items, thank you on behalf of all of us!!

      Dana at Ingredient Inspector .org

  4. Make your own lemonade from lemons, water, and sweetener. It’s very cheap, you can make it for pennies in comparison to the drinks in the carton. Tastes better, too. Go online to find a recipe or use a general cookbook to find one. I’ve made my own for years, and it’s much more refreshing. Takes only about 10 minutes.

    • Hurray!! Yes!! Please follow her suggestion and make it yourself if possible.
      She is absolutely correct that it will not only taste better because you can customize it with real ingredients but it will be considerably less expensive.
      Higher in fresh Vitamin C, too 🙂
      You can also make a small amount of Lemonade with just a single Lemon or go up in size from there. Add a dash of cranberry or beet juice to make it pink and festive for fun or for the kids.

      Dana @ Ingredient Inspector .org

  5. I personally do NOT buy any bottled/canned/carton ‘juice’ items, other than sparkling water/club soda. But I do have a question about the lemonade in the carton. It has high fructose corn syrup as the third ingredient, why add two artificial sweeteners to the mix?

    • You have identified one of the key concerns about this ingredient list for the Minute Maid Lemonade carton; we have been seeing a lot of sugar or high fructose corn syrup sweetened items which also include Artificial Sweeteners. It’s alarming because it is a new trend; there did not used to be Artificial Sweeteners in items sweetened with Sugar or HFCS. We have been collecting examples of this activity and will be doing a review soon.

      As to why Coca-Cola does this?? The inclusion of these Sweeteners may be for many reasons such as improved taste ( a quantitative test may reveal the Lemonade tastes better to more people when these Artificial Sweeteners are included), financial ingredient cost analysis (sub some of the HFCS with tiny amounts of Sucalrose and Acesulefame Potassium to save a little money), and the company knows that any negative risk associated with using these ingredients is minor since the majority of consumers will not notice nor object to the presence of these Artificial Sweeteners . . . except the readers of ConsumerWorld.org 🙂

  6. Another deceptive technique is popular in the vitamins/supplements industry: Brand names, marketing and labelling giving the impression that the vitamins/supplements are made from farm fresh vegetables. They simply add a nutritionally inconsequential powdered food derivative or yeast to the same vitamin/supplement content (the source of which is never disclosed) as any other product. The whole food/farmstand charade has become a profitable and growing niche.

    • Yes, the vitamins and supplement industry is definitely a maze of products and benefits and claims. It is an extremely difficult category to navigate and regulate. it is unfortunate that you are experiencing this dilemma when you’re trying to do something beneficial and it is unclear what exactly is inside these products. It is great that you are aware of potential misleading messages so you can filter out any unsubstantiated claims or vague ingredients and that this forum exists for you to share this concern with others. Thank you very much for bringing this important issue forward to help all of us.

Comments are closed.