Jamba Juice's "Non-Dairy Blend" Secret Ingredient? Milk.

UPDATE: Jamba Juice Says It Doesn’t Sell Milk-Filled “Non-Dairy Blend”

Jamba Juice says it won’t tell you upfront the ingredients in its “non-dairy blend” because of “trade secrets,” but perhaps the real secret is that it contains milk products and an ingredient known to give some people explosive diarrhea.

There’s a book in Jamba Juice with the ingredients list for all their products, but when you flip to their non-dairy (but “dairy-esque) products, there’s nothing.

Cory Doctorow asked us, “AFAICT, this is illegal, and it’s pretty dirty – I mean, shouldn’t we have a right to know what’s in the food they sell us… Even Coke tells you what’s IN Coke, just not the proportions/process.”

Jamba Juice says they withhold the ingredients to protect their trade secrets, but we’ll tell you what they are anyway.

(Photo: gruntzooki)

If you have an allergy, you can ask at the counter and they’ll tell you if the juice contains the allergens.

“Got peanuts? Nope, go fish.”

It’s actually not illegal for businesses to withhold their ingredients list if it concerns a trade secret, as cited in several provisions of Chapter 4 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. However, Bills are on the docket in several states to strengthen labeling laws.

We emailed Jamba Juice customer service and they provided the ingredients list for their “non-dairy blend”: Water, Grade A Nonfat Dried Milk, Grade A Whey, Grade A Whey Protein Concentrate, Splenda, Sodium Alginate, Maltodextrin, Pectin, Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Natural Flavor, Annatto.

Maybe the process of drying and removing the fat from milk makes it like a non-dairy creamer, but some consumers might be pissed if they were buying the non-dairy Jamba Juice for ethical or religious reasons, and not just dietary.

Also notable is that maltodextrin gives some consumers explosive diarrhea.

Jamba Juice didn’t provide comments in time for this post’s publication. — BEN POPKEN


Edit Your Comment

  1. BillyShears says:

    They might be riding that same technicality train that stops Kraft from calling Velveeta real cheese. Where’s Steak ‘n’ Shake Jim when you need him? ;)

  2. Lewis says:

    Erm, how ’bout a free boost of transparency…

  3. evilrobot says:

    actually, 3 of the first 4 ‘non-dairy’ ingredients are dairy products.

  4. MattyMatt says:

    Ack! This is very not cool; dairy makes me very ill. I stop by a Jamba from time to time and it’s only incredible dumb luck that I haven’t ordered one of Jamba’s secretly-poisonous drinks. Yikes. Thanks for the heads-up.

  5. TPIRman says:

    Once again Cory Doctorow demonstrates his formidable grasp of the law.

  6. grouse says:

    Johnny: Yep. Remember kids. Just because you want something to be illegal doesn’t mean it is.

  7. brian_carnell says:

    “Maybe the process of drying and removing the fat from milk makes it like a non-dairy creamer, but some consumers might be pissed if they were buying the non-dairy Jamba Juice for ethical or religious reasons, and not just dietary.”

    Um, how would they be any more pissed than the people who buy non-dairy creamer for the same reasons and don’t realize it is made from dried milk?

    The problem here is that the FDA’s regulatory definition of “non-dairy” allows proteins derived from milk to be included in “non-dairy” food items. The FDA should change its definition of “non-dairy” to explicitly exclude any milk-derived prodcuts.

  8. straddy says:

    Yeah, thats pretty crappy. I’m vegan, too, so I’d probably go for something non-dairy. I’m never going to Jamba Juice now.

    Thanks, Consumerist.

  9. TPIRman says:

    I see the post has been revised so that the phrase “explosive diarrhea” is used twice. I heartily approve.

  10. philosobrat says:

    Well, that explains why when I thought I was doing something good for my health by getting a smoothie I ended up feeling pretty “crampy” afterwards! Geesh.

  11. leonardlow says:

    Like many people, I’m intolerant to lactose, which is still present in dried milk and many milk derivatives. I have to drink non-dairy alternatives because even small amounts of lactose can make me ill enough to have to stay home from work for a week. Now, I don’t know whether or not what they’re doing is illegal; but I sure know that I’d sue them if I lost my health or my job over their drink.

  12. Thorny says:

    Starbucks is the same way. I kept getting sick after drinking their Pumpkin Spice drinks and it took about 5 different times before I realized it was the drink. I emailed them to find out what was in it and never heard back. Later I found out that lots of people try to get the recipe because they apparently enjoy explosive diarrhea, but Starbucks gave the whole “trade secrets” thing too.

  13. exkon says:


    What you do is drink, wait until it comes, and let it loose in the store. Then ask if they’ll tell you what was in the drink they served you.

    Seriously, “trade secrets” carry more weight than, “Oh shit I might die if I drink that?”

  14. captainproton says:

    Besides food allergies, which many people do not understand (apparently including megacorporations), there are food intolerances. These are two different things.

    When people think of “milk intolerance” they automatically switch and think it’s “lactose intolerance.” This is not the case, as many people are “milk protein” intolerant or more specifically “casein intolerant” which is the primary protein in milk.

    If I were to have that drink, there is a fair chance that my reaction would be like somebody shoving a knife in my abdomen with unbelievably painful cramps. I would end up vomitting everything up in my gut.

    This is why items in stores are now required to post allergy information on their labels (though it is also useful for people with intolerances). The same needs to be extended to restaurants. It’s not hard to do. Just tell us what’s in your product so we don’t get sick.

    Hiding this information to protect some imaginary trade secret is not only useless (because it’s not hard to send stuff to a lab to see what’s in food preparations), but it’s potentially dangerous as well, and opens Jamba Juice to lawsuits because of their hubris.

  15. spryte says:

    Well, the post mentioned allergens…many people are allergic to dairy products. Now, if one of those people ordered what JJ calls a “non-dairy” item and then gets ill from it and it’s revealed that the item is not, in fact, non-dairy…that’s not good. The company would be extremely liable, or am I wrong?

    Trade secrets, my ass. They just want to be able to seem like they’re including everyone in their scheme (in this case, vegans) without actually having to do any work for it.

  16. Citron says:

    Whey and powdered milk are both no-nos for people with lactose intolerance. Tisk tisk. There’s nothing special about dehydrating milk that removes the lactose. It’s not like cheese-aging.

    I can’t imagine how on earth they get away with calling something with dried milk in it “dairy free.” Even if it was lactose-free milk, which it is not listed as being, it’s still dairy derived.


  17. Citron says:

    Err, “That’s stupid.” Not, “You guys are stupid” !!

  18. Drasty says:

    Nice of Jamba Juice to care about nursing mothers whose children have milk protein allergies!

  19. lawmichl says:

    IANAL, of course, but it seems to me that if they say their products are non-dairy, yet they contain dairy, then they are guilty of false advertising which *is* illegal.

  20. macemoneta says:

    SCOTUS has already ruled that public health trumps trade secret:


    Standby for a flood of lawyers and class action lawsuits of biblical proportions. Jamba Juice, Starbucks? There’s billions to be mined…

  21. infinitysnake says:

    I think wires have been crossed. The mix whose ingredients are listed here are described by Jamba’s website as their “dairy” mix. When i ask for “non dairy” at my JJ, I’m usually steered to something with soy milk.

  22. spanky says:

    While this doesn’t seem to be illegal under current restaurant food labeling laws, calling a dairy product ‘non dairy’ could probably qualify as deceptive advertising if nothing else.

    AND whether or not it’s specifically illegal, wouldn’t it at least be some kind of tort? Calling something made mostly out of dairy a ‘non dairy’ product is like McDonald’s claiming that their fries were cooked with pure vegetable oil when they had beef in them.

    And in the McDonald’s case, as far as I know, the objections were solely based on personal ethics and religion. Nobody got physically sick.

    This is just deeply idiotic on Jamba Juice’s part.

  23. infinitysnake says:

    @spanky: As far as I can tell, this isn’t happening:

    Does Jamba Juice offer dairy-free products?
    Why yes we do! All of our fresh juices, juice blends, and boosts are dairy-free. Any smoothie can be made moooo-free by substituting the dairy with soymilk or sorbet. Current dairy-free smoothies include: Protein Berry Pizzazzâ„¢ and Jamba PowerBoost®. Jamba’s Apple Cinnamon Pretzel is also dairy-free. Our products are not certified as dairy-free.



  24. hhole says:

    Not really sure where Ben Popken gets his info but now he forces me to defend my old employer–Yamba Yuice (“you want a yob, man?). Man does that blow. But, I’ve committed my life to being an “honest hole” or “h-hole”. It might sound like I’m being an “a-hole” but it’s just me speaking the beautiful honest truth. I can’t believe I have to do it for Jamba.

    Holy crap, nothing pains me more than having to correct something that’s been slathered like rancid mayo all over the world wide web. You have no clue how many people have forwarded this to me already. Sheesh.

    If Ben would have noted even from the picture there are only two non-dairy items shown in that pic (sorbet and soymilk–let’s be real, it’s soy juice but that just sounds nasty). Nowhere is there a “non-dairy blend” listed or in the pic.

    It’s actually called a “lower calorie dairy blend”. Doh! If there’s one thing I know Jamba is terrified of it’s a lawsuit. When they had their strawberry freak out during this past winter it was panic across the company. And let’s not get started with the whole “dyke” thing on the receipt in San Francisco.

    If there is anything Jamba is guilty of it’s trying to pass off these gut-busting calorie bombs called smoothies and breads as “healthy”. Have Ben do a calorie study of Jamba and watch in horror as he consumes half of his daily caloric intake in an Original smoothie and an apple cinnamon pretzel.

    Let’s just call their “lower calorie dairy base” Jamba Guilt instead.

  25. Chongo says:

    If you get any soy based smoothies at a Ballys gym, be careful… its the same thing. I was told at 3 different gyms in Chicago that the soy products are too expensive and they just use milk now. I asked the clerk “what if people are allergic or something?” and she just shrugged said she was still in highschool and just does what shes told. When I brought it up at another ballys the kid said “no one has complained yet”

  26. spanky says:

    @infinitysnake: I hadn’t seen your previous comment before I posted. (Sometimes, I can’t see the last comment until another comment’s posted and it’s not the last one anymore.)

    It sure does look like that’s the case, though. So unless they are actively lying or something, it does look as though it is a misunderstanding, and I take back the mean stuff I said before.

    However, I do fully intend to sue them for offering something called an “Apple Cinnamon Pretzel” smoothie. I have been irreparably harmed and am no longer able to work just from reading that.

  27. jtx3 says:

    Maltodextrin causes diarrhea? Where did you learn about that? I find it hard to believe.

    In fact, I’ve heard of maltodextrin being used in oral rehydration therapy for people suffering from diarrhea.

  28. iamdrulzelot says:

    This act is blatant false advertising, and an example of one of the rare cases when a company should be sued. A kid died in a town near me from drinking a body-building shake, not knowing it had dairy in it (apparently, the kid didn’t bother to read the ingredients). Only then did people start to realize that a dairy allergy can be deadly.

  29. not_seth_brundle says:

    @spanky: I’m pretty sure the “apple cinnamon pretzel” is actually a pretzel. Not a pretzel-flavored smoothie.

  30. mendel says:

    “Also notable is that maltodextrin gives some consumers explosive diarrhea.”

    So does milk!

  31. joeblevins says:

    Sounds like we need to organize a ‘crap-in’ at Jamba Juice.

  32. vozdemano says:

    Actually, I am lactose intolerant. I went to Jamba Juice last Sunday and ordered a (alleged) non-dairy drink. well as it turns out I was sick with diarrea the rest of the day. THis is definitely something they should disclose. Screw them. I am not going there anymore.

  33. IC18 says:

    I am one of those that get them nasty stomach aches from milk products. Glad I we dont have any Jamba around where I live.

  34. muzenews says:

    This is a dangerous “game” that some establishments are playing if they’re not being upfront or completely honest about the non-dairy bit. I have a friend who is lethally allergic to all dairy. Instead of the aforementioned “explosive diarrhea,” she will go into anaphylactic shock. Naturally, she’s very careful about ordering food but food establishments should really be more careful/transparent/trained/etc.

  35. It’s just part of their new weight-loss products initiative! Give them a break.

  36. silverlining says:

    I’m confused. The photo at the top of the post has nutrition info for both the soy milk and sorbet. So is the sorbet the nondairy “dairy”, or are they two separate products?

    I would assume (maybe a bad idea) that that ingredient list didn’t describe the soy milk…

    Whenever I’ve been at JJ, they’ve always suggested using the sorbet. Never anything else (even soy milk).

    In any case… still crappy (no pun intended) policy by Jamba Juice. Sad.

  37. popnfresh says:

    Jamba’s website FAQ currently lists the Protein Berry Pizzazzâ„¢ and the Jamba PowerBoost® as their non-dairy drinks. Apparently, their customer service department doesn’t talk to the head office, because the Jamba PowerBoost® was dropped from the menu at least a year ago. I used to drink them a lot. The PowerBoost® was dropped after the Jamba company was sold and subsequently restructured their drink menu with recipes that were cheaper to make (while not lowering prices on the menu, of course). Typical corporate BS. I have since stopped going to JJ.

  38. xmischiefx says:

    The Jamba Juice website lists the ingredients for their “LOWER CALORIE DAIRY BASE”:

    Lower Calorie Dairy Base (Contains Milk) [Water, Proprietary Dry Mix Blend (Grade A Nonfat Dried Milk, Grade A Whey, Grade A Whey Protein Concentrate, May contain 2% or less of the following: Splenda® (Sucralose), Sodium Alginate, Maltodextrin, Pectin, Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate), Natural Vanilla Flavor with other Natural Flavors, Annatto (color)]

    This is the same ingredients that were posted as their supposedly “non-dairy base.” I’m not sure this is as big of a scandal as it seems, it just looks like miscommunication.

  39. koyaan says:

    “Would you like a boost?”
    “Yes, umm… I’ll take the Imodium AD boost please.”

    I have many problems with dairy, and no matter what I get at Jamba I seem to end up bloated or worse. It all makes sense now.

    And I always laugh at people who get a smoothie from Jamba thinking they’re doing something healthy. Ever see what they put in their smoothies? You’re better off eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs.

  40. cooljames says:

    This is bogus.

    I called Jamba, and they have a sorbet that they suggest for those not wanting dairy, and the woman who read the ingredients to me cited no dairy ingredients.

    Totally agree on the FDA policy regarding what qualifies as ‘non-dairy’. It’s cheesy (pardon pun) to have a product with a multitude of dairy ingredients and call it non-dairy. In this case, though, there’s nothing questionable in their sorbet (at least).

    When I read the list of ingredients to the rep, asking what they have that meets those component parts, they couldn’t come up with anything. Pertinent to some of the other comments, she did say that the on-site staff is supposed to offer to replace yogurt or dairy-laden sorbet with a mix of fruit & soy milk.

    Looking at their FAQ page, they have a listing for a low-fat dairy substitute. Maybe that’s the ingredient list quoted in this article?

  41. Silus Grok says:

    It would be nice if Ben Popken would comment on the confusion that has ensued - especially in light of hhole’s comment.

    Is this a misunderstanding? How is hhole incorrect?

    A post like this is just noise if it’s not going to actually teach us something.

  42. Drew_Blood says:

    As a vegan, I was pretty irate about this post when I saw it on BoingBoing. After posting the link to my fave vegan forum though, I started seeing a lot of people asking smart questions about what exactly this mix is in, and now hhole’s comment seems to be clearing this up. Based on what I’m seeing, I bet this is a miscommunication with an undertrained customer service rep.

    Looking forward to seeing clarification on this!

  43. hachiko says:

    Splenda is the ingredient that can cause diarrhea, not maltodextrin.

  44. Silus Grok says:

    hachiko: that’s what I had heard as well… not-so-splenda.

  45. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    Jamba Juice has, from day one, misrepresented itself as a “juice bar”. Everything is loaded with sugar, which is not healthy, no matter what the source is. It’s a travesty that Whole Foods replaced their own, healthy veg-dominated juice bar with this rubbish, which has no relationship to the value that real juicing delivers. Don’t delude yourselves–it’s a TCBY redux. Lesson: Avoid mall chains if you want something your body can actually use!

  46. Silus Grok says:

    I am surprised that a site which bills itself as being pro-consumer has yet to clarify the issues raised by hhole.

    Halloo… anyone out there?

  47. GenXCub says:

    As Thatgirl said, Don’t have any illusions that this stuff is good for you. It’s very tasty, but the calories in a regular size smoothie rival that of a Big Mac.

  48. JudeTheObscure says:

    I like to call it Jambabetes.

  49. Silus Grok says:

    It would appear that opsting a broadside, and then moving-on is the order of the day.

    Shame… I had hoped to add The Consumerist to my daily read.