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The BBC's Karen Bowerman
"Researchers claim many of the best-selling brands have high levels of sugar"
 real 28k

Thursday, 2 March, 2000, 04:05 GMT
Tooth decay warning over juice drinks
at the dentist's
Children are warned they may face extra dental work
Soft-drink makers are under fire, accused of misleading shoppers over the high sugar in their juice drinks.

Some of the UK's most popular brands contain more sugar than Coca Cola, increasing the risk of damage to children's teeth, research shows.

And many juice drinks - often considered healthy alternatives to fizzy pop - have less than 15% fruit juice.


All too often drinks fall short of the healthy image that helps sell them to well-meaning parents

Which? editor Graeme Jacobs
The research, by Which? magazine, showed some drinks had up to six teaspoons of sugar, while others had a fruit juice content of as little as 5%.

Consumer groups have advised parents to read ingredient lists carefully before giving the drinks to children.

'Mistaken belief'

Which? analysed the contents of 19 orange-flavour fruit drinks.

Editor Graeme Jacobs said: "All too often drinks fall short of the healthy image that helps sell them to well-meaning parents.

"Juice drinks are popular with children and many parents are persuaded into buying them, mistakenly believing that they're always a healthy option."

Of the 19 drinks examined, those without artificial sweeteners all contained between 8% and 12% sugar, and half had more sugar per 100ml than Coca Cola.

The sweetest, a 250ml carton of Del Monte Fruit burst, was found to contain more than six teaspoons of sugar, making it 60% sweeter than Del Monte pure orange juice.

Thickening ingredients

The survey was also critical of Sunny Delight, now the third best-seller in the soft drinks race behind Coca Cola and Pepsi.

The advertisement for the drink, which is marketed specifically at children, emphasises the health aspects, but researchers at Which? found it contained three to four teaspoons of sugar in every 200ml bottle.

Other ingredients include vegetable oil, thickening agents and colours to make the drink look like fruit juice when it contains just 5% juice.

Which?, the trading arm of the Consumers' Association, has also called for the British Dental Association to withdraw its endorsement of the drink Ribena Toothkind.

The drink contains less sugar and is less acidic than other fruit drinks, but research shows that it can still cause decay and erosion and is not truly "kind" to teeth.

Ribena said the drink "minimised" erosion, and the claim is currently being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Cartoons

The drink manufacturers have also been criticised for the packaging.

By law, drinks for children must not contain artificial sweeteners, but many juice drinks do.

Manufacturers get round it by saying they are not directly targeting children, despite often carrying cartoons on the packaging.

Mr Jacobs said: "We think the packaging on these kinds of drinks can be misleading, so it's important to check the ingredients carefully if you're concerned about what might be inside."

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See also:

30 Jan 00 |  Health
Baby food 'too sugary'
20 Jan 99 |  Health
Dental threat of snacking
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