A quarter of ‘poppers’ or juice boxes marketed as fruit juice in Australia actually contain 25 per cent or less actual fruit juice, a new Choice study has found.
The consumer watchdog examined the serving size, sugar content, additives, Vitamin C and percentage of actual juice of 100 juice box products available in Australia and compared the results.
Choice has recommended parents heed the findings of the research and think twice before buying the products for their children, as they may not be as nutritious as they assume.
The sugar content of many of the products tested should ring alarm bells for parents, who could unwittingly be providing their child an entire day’s worth of sugar in one box.
The research found, for example, that Golden Circle Pineapple and Golden Circle Sunshine Punch juice boxes each contain more than six teaspoons (30.5g) of sugars in a 250mL pack, a significant amount for a young child.
“Juice boxes definitely offer lunchbox convenience but many are packed with added sugars and deserve the status of a treat,” Choice spokesperson Ingrid Just said.
“While the 100 per cent juice poppers can give you valuable nutrients such as vitamin C and folate, they don’t have the fibre of fresh fruit.”
Choice also found the serving sizes of many of the drinks were too large for children, with three quarters of those tested double the recommended size of 125mL.
“Many juice boxes offer a double serve which makes it easy for children to end up drinking more juice and more associated kilojoules and sugars, than what is generally recommended,” Just said.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that many beverages labelled as ‘fruit drinks’ are confusing consumers into thinking they’re healthy, when in reality many are worse than fizzy drinks.
In January, researchers in the United States began pushing for a tax on sweetened drinks, which they say could save 26 000 lives per year.
The team from the University of California, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Centre and Columbia University have found that increasing the cost of fizzy drinks and other sweetened beverages by a penny per ounce, would reduce consumption by 15 per cent in ten years.
Research on the hidden additives in foods has led to the government tightening up restrictions about health claims made on packaging, and as more people become informed about the impacts of unhealthy diets and obesity, consumers are turning back to basics and demanding healthier fruit juices.
Check out our feature on this trend towards health here.