Fruit juices: Go for fresh homemade
• Shun Products Without NAFDAC Number— Agency
As more fruit juices for children are making their way into the market, kids to take them as snacks or supplement during meals. Some parents consider such juices as pacifiers and freebies during birthday parties, ignoring the health implications that might be associated with such.
Nutritionist at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) said chemical preservatives and sweeteners contained in most children fruit juices tend to increase the level of body acidity, thereby making them more susceptible to different diseases after constant consumption.
She said: “The processed commercial fruit juice is not as beneficial as fresh raw fruit or fruit juice. As most of them are made from concentrates, the fruit juice is obtained from fruits and then filtered through a processor that extracts water. This way, the juice takes up less space when transported. Before being packaged and sold, water is added back into the concentrated juice and it is pasteurised. Usually, chemical preservatives and sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup are added to the juice to make it safe and sweet; but they render it less healthy to the consumers.
“Many people give fruit juices to their children daily, just because it has become a widely acceptable practice, and not because of nutritional value offered. Fruit juices may supply some vitamins and minerals, but it is better to obtain such nutrients from fresh fruits or homemade fruit juice and avoid the side effects of chemical preservatives and sweeteners.
“Sometimes, manufacturing and expiry dates are tampered with, especially if they are from fake companies. People should reduce consumption of packaged fruit juices, especially the ones from non-reputable companies. If at all fruit juice must be consumed, then reputable companies should be patronised and the manufacturing and expiry date should be checked before buying them.
“If strange substances are found in packaged juices being sold to the public, the manufacturers should be reported to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and have such products withdrawn from the public. By and large, parents should be careful what their children consume generally. Taking other drinks aside water is not mandatory. It is safer for children to get used to drinking plain potable water. If a drink is desired, then homemade fruit juice is best.”
The Director for Special Duties, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, said parents should moderate children’s consumption of sweet drinks, as they are injurious to health, when taken in excess.
He explained that before NAFDAC approves any product, such must have gone through regulatory analysis with due diligence.
He said: “NAFDAC looks at the factory’s location, contents and raw materials. Experts and directors from different departments would come together to examine the quality standard. After this, the product would go for laboratory analysis to maintain the quality standard.
“Some of the sweet drinks contain excess sugar, which is not good for children’s health, as they might lead to diabetes, if not properly controlled.
“There are always side effects, especially in food products, when used excessively, whether in children or adults. Therefore, lifestyle moderation is the best.
“Over the years, NAFDAC has been campaigning for lifestyle moderation. When it comes to fast foods and juice drinks, among others, people should go for those with NAFDAC registration number.
“In 1993, when NAFDAC just started work, the first battle was with bottling companies, because they started promotions, advertising that there were prizes to be won, including cars and others, when you consumed their bottled drinks. This lured people into consuming more of the soft drinks, because they wanted the covers of the drinks to win prizes.
“We clamped down on the adverts because people were taking more and coming down with diabetes. We said the adverts should stop, because there is poverty in the land and people wanted to win cars and other prizes to increase their economic fortunes.
“Consumers need to be protected, and NAFDAC registration number should not be taken for a joke. We have been on public enlightenments for a very long period, telling people to take their destiny into their hands. So, when you see unregistered products, avoid them. By the time the public begins to avoid unregistered products, the manufacturers would close down, because nobody patronises them.”
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