koolaidjammers4Welcome to the second installment of What’s In It Wednesday! We are less than two weeks away from school and the preparations have begun in our home for the big day. New markers and shoes have been purchased. Hair cuts are on the agenda and packing lunches is once again on my mind. I thought it would be perfect timing to take a look at a common beverage that ends up in lunch boxes across our country.

I remember drinking Kool-Aid as a kid – lime was my favourite. I found it very interesting to watch that cup o’ sugar dissolve in the large plastic pitcher. As a kid, it was a cool science experiment and now, the idea of swallowing that much refined sugar makes my stomach churn. Kids are hooked. And with good reason!  The 24 grams of carbohydrate listed on the label is from ADDED SUGAR in the form of high fructose corn syrup mainly. One package has 24 grams of sugar.  That’s 6 teaspoons! In. Each. Drink. No wonder kids bounce off the walls and then want MORE. Children should be not be consuming any more than 3-9 tsp of added sugars per DAY, depending on their age. With one ‘jammer’, most children will have exceeded their daily allotment and have will have received no actual nutritional value whatsoever except for a sugar surge followed by a crash.

A 6.7 oz serving of the Cherry Juice Pouch contains allergens such as MSG, corn, flavouring and other controversial ingredients. Why are we feeding our children multiple controversial ingredients on a regular basis?  With the rise in childhood obesity, learning disabilities and cancer, to name a few, proper nutrition should be our top priority.  

Another big beef that I have is with all the marketing aimed towards children. The friendly looking pitcher with eyes that meet mine as I travel down the juice aisle with my parent. The bright colours.

As an adult visiting the Kool-Aid website, I am instantly brought back to childhood fun. The first thing I read is “Fun Times Ahead, No Kool-Aid Mustache Required!”  “I’ve Got Some Exciting Free Kool-Aid Activities Just for You!” I can’t look at all the fun unless I sign in via Facebook. Now they have access to my profile and they call me by name. Clever! I hope this doesn’t post to my page…it is research…I promise!

Up pops a recipe for Kool-Aid Frosting. Fun Times!  Of course giving me the option to share with all my peeps. Kool-Aid Cheesecake!  Might as well Pin that!! Next up Kool-Aid Lip Gloss. Oh the humanity. Again I click, SHOW ME MORE!  Ah, finally…something I can relate to.  A SMOOTHIE!  No, wait…a KOOL-Aid Smoothie.  You get the drift. No actual information provided on the site regarding the kool-aid ingredients. As parents, it really is up to us to become detectives in the grocery store and know how to read labels. Relying on food manufacturer’s websites are not a reliable source of well rounded information. 

Ingredients:

Water, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Pear Juice From Concentrate, Contains less than 22%, Ascorbic Acid, Artificial Flavours, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate (to preserve freshness), Calcium Disodium EDTA, (to preserve freshness) Red 40 and Blue 1.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is commonly referred to as glucose-fructose in Canada. It is derived from corn. Most sweetener is derived from genetically modified corn. If the package doesn’t say, GMO free, than it most likely isn’t.

HFCS doesn’t actually exist anywhere in nature. It is a manufactured product created by using enzymes (two natural, one synthetic) to increase the fructose content of corn syrup to about 90%. This super high fructose syrup is then blended “down” with a 100% glucose corn syrup to create various mixes. HFCS 55, for example, which is 55% fructose and 45% glucose is the mix used most commonly in beverages. HFCS 42 is the blend used more commonly in baked goods.

As a point of comparison, table sugar (sucrose) is a disaccharide comprised of a molecule of fructose and glucose bound together. It is very easily digested in the stomach into its component sugars, and in that respect is not unlike an HFCS 50 mix. However, it should be noted that table sugar, like HFCS, is not a naturally occurring substance itself and must be “refined” (although not chemically altered) through manufacturing processes before it sits on your table. And keep in mind, it’s no badge of honor for the HFCS industry to claim that there’s no difference between high fructose corn syrup and sucrose since heavy consumption of sucrose has been linked to everything from obesity to diabetes.

Yes, it’s absolutely true that high fructose corn syrup is made from corn, but it doesn’t mean anything. Biodiesel is made from corn too, and you wouldn’t want to see that used as a food additive. -Jon Barron

Artificial Flavour: The main difference between a natural and artificial flavor is the origin of the flavor chemicals. Natural flavors must be derived from plant or animal material.

[1] Artificial flavors are synthesized in the lab. The actual chemicals in these two kinds of flavors may be exactly the same: the chemical structures of the individual molecules may be indistinguishable.

The Food and Drug Administration defines natural flavors as substances derived from animals or plants and artificial flavors are those that are not. An artificial flavor must be comprised of one of the nearly 700 FDA-allowed flavoring chemicals or food additives categorized as “generally recognized as safe,” or any of 2000 other chemicals not directly regulated by FDA but sanctioned for use by an industry group, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States. Most of these chemicals exist as natural flavors or can be extracted from them.

From a food manufacturer’s perspective, the difference between a natural and artificial flavor often comes down to cost and consumer preference. Source: EWG website

Ascorbic Acid:  Ascorbic Acid is a natural water-soluble vitamin.  (Vitamin C)

Citric Acid:  Acid compound found in citrus fruits  (See last week’s post on kd for mold reference)

Sodium Benzoate: Derived from a reaction of benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide, sodium benzoate is actually the sodium salt of benzoic acid. Sodium benzoate is a known carcinogenic additive which, when eaten or applied to the skin, gets transported to the liver, where it is supposed to be filtered, and expelled in urine, but the damage gets done before that process is completed.

Sodium benzoate chokes out your body’s nutrients at the DNA cellular level by depriving mitochondria cells of oxygen, sometimes completely shutting them down. Just as humans need oxygen to breathe, cells need oxygen to function properly and to fight off infection, including cancer.

The FDA says it’s safe because the amount used to preserve foods is very low, but don’t ever combine it with vitamin C or E, as this causes benzene to be formed. This is dangerous. Benzene is a known carcinogen, which means it may cause cancer. Source: naturalnews.com

Potassium Sorbate: Potassium sorbate is a potassium salt of sorbic acid, a naturally occuring antimicrobial compound; used as a preservative.

Calcium Disodium EDTA:  Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, known as EDTA, is a chemical salt used to separate heavy metals from dyes and other substances. One form, known as calcium disodium EDTA, appears in foods and cosmetic products to prevent air from spoiling them by introducing unwanted oxygen into the products’ molecular structures.

Red 40: This is a very controversial food dye, many sites I researched linked it to increased cancer rates in varies studies, however FDA says the amount permitted in a particular food item is too small enough to warrant any immediate danger. While I can appreciate this train of thought, we need to consider the cumulative effect. Does your child ever eat candy, ice cream, popsicles or yogurt? Cancer or other illnesses usually don’t occur because of one exposure. We need to be looking at the big picture here. In addition, food dyes have been linked to behavioural and learning issues for kids. It is our job to set our children up for success.

Blue 1: In September of 2003, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory to alert healthcare providers of toxicity associated with the use of FD&C Blue No. 1 in enteral feeding solutions. Toxicity, including death, has been reported only in association with FD&C Blue No. 1 tinting of enteral feedings, intended as a means of visually detecting pulmonary aspiration, although causality has not been established. Source: www.drugs.com

When you go to the Kool-Aid website, the first thing it says is “Fun Times Ahead, No Kool-Aid Mustache Required!”  “I’ve Got Some Exciting Free Kool-Aid Activities Just for You!”  oh dear……

first they want me to sign in via facebook, then they call me by name.  Clever!  I hope this doesn’t post to my page.  LOL  Research Folks, Research!  

Up pops a recipe for Kool-Aid Frosting.  Fun Times!  Of course giving me the option to share with all my peeps.  Kool-Aid Cheesecake!  Might as well Pin that!!  Next up Kool-Aid Lip Gloss.  Oh the humanity. Again I click, SHOW ME MORE!  ah, finally…. something I can relate to.  A SMOOTHIE!  no, wait… a KOOL-Aid Smoothie.  Nirvana!   you get the drift.  No actual information provided on the site regarding the kool-aid ingredients.

What are we to do? Won’t our children suffer from dehydration if we don’t send sugary pouches along in their lunches or hand them one after an hour of soccer? Here is the good news. Water is really great stuff! It hydrates us, contains no sugar and is nearly free. Consider purchasing a really fun new water bottle that your child looks forward to using and run with it. Get one for yourself too while you are at it! If your child drinks milk, save that for home – their lunch bag will smell a whole lot better. If your child likes juice, save that for an occasional basis and only provide 100% fruit juice, not from concentrate. Children and adults alike should be consuming no more than 1/2 cup of fruit juice per day. Source: Canada’s Food Guide. There is way more nutritional value in an actual apple or orange. Cut it up and pop it in their lunch. It may take a little bit for your child to get used to not having juice in their lunch but in the long run, you are doing them a great service and teaching them valuable life lessons along the way.