Sunday, January 22, 2012

Juice Boxes = Bad, But Not Why You Think

I'll start right out with it: I do not like juice boxes. I find them pointless. I find them lazy. I find them wasteful. Oh so fun, oh so cute with their little plastic straws. LAZY. A quick way to get kids to shut up and get them full of sugar. The juices in most of those isn't even very good for kids. Proof? Right here in an e-mail I got, asking to get the FDA to change regulations.

Here's some text from the e-mail:

Every child enjoys a juice box with her after school snack. But what parents don’t know is that a disturbing number of juices contain unsafe levels of lead and inorganic arsenic that can lead to serious health problems for children. While the government has rules in place to limit lead and arsenic in our drinking water, there’s nothing to stop companies from making juices and other children’s drinks that contain unsafe levels of those poisons. A new study by Consumer Reports found that at least 10% of apple and grape juices sampled had more arsenic than what the government says is safe for drinking water -- and even more had unsafe levels of lead.

Now it’s up to the Food and Drug Administration to make rules to regulate how much arsenic and lead can be in juices, like they do for drinking water.
While not lethal, that kind of sustained, low-level exposure during early childhood "carries the most serious long-term risk," according to researchers. The dangerous effects of unsafe levels of inorganic arsenic and lead in children are shocking:
  • Inorganic arsenic is linked to cancers, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and immune system problems
  • Children exposed to drinking water with unsafe arsenic levels had decreased intellectual function
  • Low-level arsenic exposure is "significantly related to poorer scores in language, visuospatial skills, processing speed, and immediate memory," among other problems
  • Unsafe levels of lead were found in 25% of juices sampled, and lead exposure is linked to brain development and behavioral problems
If lead and arsenic are unsafe for children in their drinking water, the same poisons should be regulated for the juices that so many children love.

Why? WHY must the government step in for this? Why do we not just put this information out there and let parents actually make the CHOICE to stop giving their kids crap? People clamor all the time about too many government regulations. Here's another one. Do we really need this? Comparing drinking water to JUICE BOXES is, in my ever so humble opinion, absurd. Drinking water is kind of on the side of necessity. Juice boxes are on the side of POINTLESS. 

But... but... fruit! And juice! And vitamins!!! BULLCRAP. Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors... how about all those? How about NOT giving your kids stuff that is bad for them in packaging that is wasteful and bad for the planet? Sure, I too have the uber-cool totebag made from re-purposed juice pouches, but do we really think the vast majority of those are being reclaimed? 

Bottom line: No, the FDA does NOT need to regulate what is in these juices. Parents need to regulate the crap that goes in their kids. Period.