What could be a more perfect hot summer day treat than an all natural fruit bar made with real fruit or fruit juice, no sugar added, and an excellent source of Vitamin C? But before you take a bite, turn the package over and read the label. There you will discover several unwanted and possibly dangerous ingredients – sorbitol, polydextrose, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, polysorbate 80.
What’s the big deal?
For starters, “No Sugar Added” is highly misleading. It should really say artificial sweeteners added and three different kinds at that! Notice too the asterix after sorbitol which says, “Sensitive individuals may experience a laxative effect from excess consumption of this ingredient.” According to WebMD, “This medication is used as a laxative to treat occasional episodes of constipation.” It is also used as a sweetening agent in medicinal syrups. The side effects of sorbitol are nausea, gas, diarrhea, stomach cramps or anal irritation.” Who wants a medication, especially a laxative, in their popsicle?
Acesulfame potassium is also an artificial sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar. According to medicinenet.com, “Acesulfame K (as it’s also known) contains the carcinogen methylene chloride. Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver effects, kidney effects, visual disturbances, and cancer in humans.” Sucralose is another chlorinated artificial sweetener like aspartame, often referred to as “sweetpoison” and reputed to be one of the most dangerous artificial sweeteners of them all. Polysorbate 80 is a surfactant and emulsifier used in cleaners and personal care products. So, what’s it doing in popsicles?
Yesterday I served these fruit bars to some visiting relatives. My husband bought them and I thought they looked okay. Later after reading the label, I wished we hadn’t served them. It’s so easy to be misled by packaging – that’s the intent.
What can you do?
With any packaged food, make it a habit to read the label. As Michael Pollan, the food writer and activist says, “Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.”.
For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.