Well, not really discovered - I always knew it was there, but I just didn't really look at it too much. I picked it up sometime in the Winter of 2004 during a conference at a local hotel. Nowhere on the packaging does it say "Refrigerate", so I didn't. The first month, I meant to drink it, but after that I didn't know if it was good anymore. Now that it's October, a coworker of mine said I should call them and find out if it's still good to drink. That's exactly what I did.
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When I called the number I was put through to the voicemail of a woman named Jenny Bailey. I left a message saying that I had a 10 oz. plastic bottle of orange juice and would like to know if I could still drink it. She called me back the next day, but I was not at my desk when the call came through. She left a message stating that if I could provide her with the lot number printed on the shoulder of the bottle, then she could tell me when the shelf life expired.
Two days later, I remembered to call the 800 number again and this time I got Sonya who looked up the lot number and informed me that my orange juice was packaged on November 10, 2003. The shelf life on the TreeTop orange juice in plastic bottles is six months, she explained. She suspected (correctly) that the orange juice had started to turn brown, but went on to assure me that it was perfectly safe for me to open it and take a sip to test the flavor. I declined.
According to Sonya from TreeTop, the orange juice's shelf life is determined by how long the juice will keep it's fresh look and flavor. TreeTop claims six months for their orange juice because in their studies after six months the orange juice begins to change colors due to oxidation (not bacteria cultures). The orange juice is perfectly safe to drink due to the pasteurization process, but after it changes color, it loses a great deal of its flavor. Sonya also told me that there is probably no nutritional content in my beverage anymore.
Since my curiosity was piqued, I asked if refrigerating the orange juice would have been a smart thing to do. She said that refrigerating the orange juice would definitely prolong its shelf life. Since my bottle was prepared for unrefrigerated storage, placing it in refrigeration would probably extend its life for much more than a year. Surely, had I refrigerated, the beverage would look and taste much as it would have in February when it entered my possession. Sonya also mentioned that once an orange juice product is opened, it should be stored in the refrigerator for no more than a week before being finished or disposed of.
Now I'm just contemplating whether or not I should taste this brown juice.}?>