Get ready for your mind to be blown and your stomach to feel sick with disgust!  Yep, we get that’s a really big call to make but we stand by it.

Those brightly coloured ice-pops that get handed out at school (or sold in the tuck shop) are quite frankly a chemical sh*t storm.  We would personally like to see them banned in schools, or at least have The Daily Drink Co change the ingredients so they’re not made up of the following.

A quick Google search of these synthetically flavoured, chemically coloured ice-pops revealed the following ingredients:

Water, Sugar, Food Acid (Citric Acid), Flavours, Colours (122, 150d, 110, 102, 123, 133), Preservatives (202, 211, 223).

So, what does all that mean?  Let’s break it down:

Water

This should be ok, right?! It’s just water…..but the interesting thing to note when water is listed as an ingredient, it generally means there will be a preservative of some kind added to keep it shelf stable.  And what do we have here…..not one preservative but three (202, 211 and 223)!!!

Sugar

This highly addictive white powder is listed second, which means it’s the next highest ingredient in terms of volume.  We all know sugar is not good for us, right?  Well, there is roughly 12g of sugar per small tube of ice-pop!  That is around three teaspoons of sugar per tube!!

So, what does sugar do to our bodies?  Pretty much a whole bunch of things that aren’t nice.  Some of these include:

  • It makes you want to eat more and more sugar due to its highly addictive nature
  • It affects your brain and ability to learn
  • It ages your skin at a faster rate
  • Excess sugar your body holds onto is then stored as fat
  • It speeds up your cell oxidation rate
  • You get an unnatural surge in energy (sugar high) and then the inevitable crash down afterwards, which then makes you want to eat more sugar – it is a vicious cycle

Citric Acid

For the most part, this is fine.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) classifies this as ‘not expected to be potentially toxic or harmful’ and a ‘low human health priority’ (1).

Flavours

Hmmm, what exactly is this?  According to the EWG ‘how a food tastes is largely determined by the volatile chemicals in the food. Chemicals that give food a specific smell are extremely important because smell makes up 80 to 90 percent of the sense of taste. In processed food, this mixture of chemicals is called “flavour.”’ (2)

So, what are these ‘chemicals’?  We simply don’t know, and companies aren’t bound to reveal that to us either!

So, just to make it very clear – you have no idea what you are eating in these ice-pops!

Colours 122, 150d, 110, 102, 123 and 133

Artificial colours are often tested on animals and are made by combining various aromatic hydrocarbons like toluene, xylene and benzene, which are obtained from the distillation of bituminous coal. Coal tars are also made from petroleum distillates.

To put it simply – artificial food colours are chemically produced and derived from petroleum, a crude oil product. Think gasolinediesel fuelasphalt and tar.

(“sounds tasty…NOT!”)

The Southampton University conducted a study on six artificial food colourings 102,104, 110, 122, 124 and 129.  It was concluded that when these colours are mixed with sodium benzoate (210-2180), a common preservative and one which is found in these ice-pops, it caused direct behavioural changes in children.  As a result of this, it has become mandatory in Europe for a warning label to be included on the packaging of all food that contains these artificial food colourings.  The warning label states that the consumption of the product may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.  Are we required to have that same label here in Australia? Unfortunately, no!

But let’s break this down further:

Colour 102 (Tartrazine – Yellow)

Potential effects when in food:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Thyroid issues
  • Aggression
  • Headache/migraine
  • Asthmatics should avoid
  • Insomnia
  • Itching/rash
  • Hay fever like symptoms

Colour 110 (Sunset Yellow)

Potential effects when in food:

  • Suspected carcinogen
  • Allergies
  • Hyperactivity
  • Digestive issues
  • Skin rashes

Colour 122 (Azorubine/Carmoisine – Red)

Potential effects when in food:

  • Suspected carcinogen
  • Oedema
  • Hyperactivity
  • Skin rashes

Colour 123 (Amaranth – Black)

Potential effects when in food:

  • Skin rash
  • Hyperactivity
  • Hay fever like symptoms
  • Asthmatics should avoid
  • Eczema
  • Allergic reaction for aspirin sensitive people

Colour 133 (Brilliant Blue)

Potential effects when in food:

  • Suspected carcinogen and heavily linked to cancer
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nausea

Colour 150d (Caramel IV – Dark Brown to Black)

Potential effects when in food:

  • Asthmatics should avoid
  • Digestive issues
  • Prohibited in foods for infants
  • Corn allergy sufferers should avoid

All pretty gross huh?!  And, to make it even worse, you will find artificial colours in a LOT of food!

Preservatives 201, 211 and 233

Preservatives are used in food to extend the shelf life of a product.  But at what cost to our health?  We spoke earlier about the reaction preservative 211 (sodium benzoate) has with artificial colours but what about just on their own.  Let’s take a look:

Potassium Sorbate – 201

Sorbates occur naturally in some fruits – true, so why are we worried about it? Well, it is the fact that it is synthesised and no longer in it’s natural form that concerns us. When food is 100% natural it contains a range of things – fibre, proteins, vitamins etc and our bodies can distinguish the difference between fake and real. The human body is good at processing real food, it is not so great at processing fake ingredients.

Potassium sorbate is a widely used preservative. It is added to food to inhibit the growth of moulds and yeasts that can cause foods to spoil. It is highly soluble, very cheap and easily produced making it a popular choice for many food companies.

Potential effects when in food:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Hay fever like symptoms
  • Asthmatics should avoid
  • Headache
  • Hyperactivity
  • Prohibited in food for infants
  • Skin irritation
  • Digestive issues

Sodium Benzoate – 211

Benzoates occur naturally in lots of berries, vegetables, pepper, herbs, spices, peppermint and honey, but just like above, it is the synthetic versions that are of concern to us.

Sodium benzoate is a synthetic chemical produced when benzoic acid is combined with sodium hydroxide.

Potential effects when in food:

  • May damage DNA cells
  • Asthmatics should avoid
  • Headache
  • Hyperactivity
  • Prohibited in food for infants
  • Skin irritation
  • Digestive issues

Sodium Metabisulphite – 223

Sodium Metabisulphite is used as a food preservative and disinfectant. When it is dissolved in cold water it forms sulphur dioxide gas, which is why it should be avoided by asthmatics or anyone with respiratory issues. It is used to inhibit the growth of mould and bacteria on all surfaces it comes into contact with.

Potential effects when in food:

  • Asthmatics should avoid
  • Hay fever like symptoms
  • Harmful to aquatic organisms
  • Prohibited for food in infants
  • Damage to the immune system
  • Skin irritation
  • Digestive issues

It’s pretty full on isn’t it, specially given these products are targeted to children!

It is scary to think how much potential damage a simple ice-pop can have, the long-lasting effects it may cause on our bodies and especially those little, growing bodies that need to be nurtured.

How can you avoid this?

There are other brands on the market which are derived from natural sources (such as Smooze and Proud & Punch) that are a much better choice.  But we advise to always keep an eye out for the ingredient’s panels because companies can change their ingredients without us knowing.

Better still, make your own.  It’s so easy to buy ice-pop moulds and blend up some fruit with water and freeze them.  Treat foods don’t have to be hard at all!

Want to know more?

If you want to know more about all sorts of additives and preservatives and what they all mean, check out our signature e-program Additive-Free Made Easy and register for our next round.  So far, we have helped thousands of families to switch to an additive-free lifestyle simply and easily.