There is a vast variety of branded juice and soft drinks in the market. However, it is important to judge what is safe and healthy for you. Buy pasteurised juices, check for labels and more, say experts.
Saurabh Arora, founder of FoodSafetyHelpline.com, and Pawan Vats, Vice President at Auriga Research (service provider of pharmaceutical testing, food testing and herbal testing), have listed a few pointers one must keep in mind:
- While selecting the right drink, the best is 100 per cent fruit juice without added sugar, followed by a fruit drink with low sugar content and high quantity of fruit content and then the fruit drinks.
Last in the order are flavoured drinks as they contain no fruit content, but only fruit flavours. Avoid these as all they will do is quench your thirst and will only give you sugar and water.
- Fruits have a short shelf life and harmful pathogens from contaminated fresh fruit that can enter fruit juices at any time during handling, preparation and processing.
Improperly packaged fruit juices and soft drinks encourage growth of fungi and moulds. Juice manufacturers normally pasteurised juices with a quick high-heat treatment so they are free from pathogens, yeast and moulds and which extends shelf life to between 9 to 12 months depending on the packaging.
So, buying pasteurised juices will help prevent food-borne illnesses. These days some juices are cold pressed and these need to be stored with temperature controls or they will get contaminated. Never buy cold-pressed juices that are in the open unless they are from freezers and chillers.
- Fresh fruits are susceptible to chemical contamination as insecticides are sprayed on them to prevent pest infusion. Consumers must, therefore, buy fruit juices and other soft drinks only from a fixed-base operator (FBO). Licensed FBOs carry out regular testing of products so chemical contaminants are within regulatory limits.
- Packaging must be checked for physical damage like dents or breakages as rupture of the container can lead to microbial contamination. Check that the seal is not broken on the inside of juice cartons.
- A look at the list of ingredients and nutritional facts will give a true picture about the fruit content, quantity of sugar and other substances and additives used in the drinks like colours, preservatives and flavours.