Monday, April 03, 2006

Poison Israeli Soda Soft Drinks?

At our home at the Muqata, our kids know we never serve soda soft drinks during the week -- we reserve those drinks exclusively for shabbat. Even if the take-out pizza special comes with a free bottle of Coke per pizza pie ordered, we still save the coke for shabbat.

There are a few reasons for this:

1. Makes Shabbat meals more special for kids.
2. Reduced needless sugar intake minimizes kids bouncing off the walls.
3. Healthier to drink water or whatever else we have for them to drink.

Our kids’ favorite bubbly drinks in Israel are definitely the from the psychedelically colored “Fanta” product line – deep puple (grape), radiator-coolant green (Shokata – blended kiwi and other flavores), spray-paint yellowish-orange, and Rusted Burnt-Sunset Red (exotic fruit?).

Deep down, I always wonder how safe these drinks really are. Artificial food coloring has always worried us on some level -- we used to search high and low to only buy yellow soup nuts/almonds, “mondlin” without the dreaded “tartrezine” yellow coloring in them. We tried green ketchup once to see what the kids thought if of it, yet the artifical coloring in the ingredients prevented us from ever buying it again -- “Aluminum Lake Blue #5”.

It even sounds disgusting.

The only place I want aluminum near my food is in foil wrapping. I don’t want it anywhere in the ingredients list.

While reading up on our local economic news in Israel, I was rather surprised to read about a 200 NIS million ($42.8 million) class action suit against Coca-Cola in Israel, the owners of the Fanta product line. Apparently, Fanta contains sodium preservatives and acerbic acid—that together create Benzene, which is believed to be a cancer-causing ingredient in humans.

In response the article states

The company explained that a combination of the ingredients exists in two Fanta products and both were analyzed by the company's global laboratory in Europe. The findings also support the claims that the amount of Benzene is drastically lower than the Israeli standard and the World Health Organization standard for drinking water. Therefore, Coca Cola said, "it's important to stress that Fanta products carry no health risks."

So what do we do now?

Tell the kids that their favorite soft drinks are now off limits even on Shabbat?
Switch to something less poisonous, like regular Coke?

Only have water and OJ?

One thing is for certain, we are not going to switch to “petel” – the awful drink syrup similar to camp “bug juice.”

Then again, I haven’t really discussed this with the Mrs. @ The Muqata who hasn’t read this yet, so we’ll see…

Any advice from out there in pre-pesach blogland?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Anonymous said...

Yea, this has been all over the international news. The highest concentration that they're finding in any soft drink is 8 ppb (microgram/liter). US drinking water standards allow 5 ppb and I highly doubt anyone drinks as much fanta as water. I don't think this a big deal..Benzene is also present in air and on average people breathe in 220 micrograms of benzene every day. I'd be more worried about that.

Anonymous said...

Just a note about has a different name in the US, and it is very common. When I first heard about it (after Aliyah) I avoided it--until I realized it was in something with an English package that didn't list it, and a Hebrew label that did!

Michael Kopinsky said...

Whatever you do, don't go for the Petel. It should qualify as tzaar baalei chaim. The stuff is just NASTY!

Until something more conclusive is proven, I'll continue drinking my fanta, or coke, or whatever it is.

tafka PP said...

In my day, we were only allowed to drink Water during the week, and Juice on Shabbat if we were "Good."

And now I'm addicted to processed foods and sugar. Go figure. But I still choose water over anything else to drink. If nothing else, makes life cheaper!

Sarah Likes Green said...

in our house, sweet soft drinks were also left for special occasions, shabbat etc so we had cordial (also a syrup but actually nice, nothing like that horrible petel crap). (now it's wine that we leave for shabbat!)

how about fruit juice? it has to be better than artificial fizzy things. even chocolate milk is an option but obviously not with meat meals.

still realizing said...

"Reduced needless sugar intake minimizes kids bouncing off the walls."
Everytime science looks at this question, the behavioral effect of sugar gets smaller. Dessert is at the end of the meal and the beginning of freedom so maybe it's the parents saying "You may go now" that kicks off the spurt of activity.

See this abstract and this survey for some pointers.

I found them by googling for (sugar behavior children).

westbankmama said...

Go for the water and juice. We usually don't serve soda at all - although when my husband found cans of Dr. Browns soda in a store recently we had a nostalgic taste-test to see if our kids would like what we did. Cel-ray and root beer were flops - but the cream soda was a hit.

ifyouwillit... said...

A couple of years back, a neighbour pointed out that Kosher for Pesach orange juice was more expensive than Petrol, but I am sure you'd still be safer with the Fanta.

Anonymous said...

I think you're doing the right thing to restrict soda pop drinking. Maybe you can install an old-fashioned soda fountain machine, get the syrup and seltzer and make your own! (I have a vague memory from childhood of my father holding a seltzer spritzer thing -- kind of a make-your-own soda water machine.)

Robbie said...

I think it's fine to continue serving on shabbat - everything has something that's not good for us - assuming we drink a gallon of it straight every day. A little bit here and there won't kill you, and, it helps teach your kids that moderation is best.

(Plus, all the kids I work with who don't have soda at home go absolutely crazy when we have it at the shul, and you don't want that.)

Scraps said...

I don't think it's such a big deal. Everything is toxic these days anyway. And like the first commenter noted, they're probably breathing it a whole lot more than they're drinking it, and they're probably drinking more of it in their water than in their Fanta.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Scraps: Maybe they need to add a Benzene colored flavor as well...I'm sure my kids would love that even more than the burnt orange. I guess the key is to keep it in moderation.

Robbie: At shul, they usually have the cheaper drinks, which aren't nearly as exciting as flourescent "glow in the dark" green or purple Fanta.

I wonder if the drinks are "healthier" if they don't taste (or look) as appealing. (ie, Triple Crown Cola is awful compared to real Coke...yet you can always find it at a kiddush...though I'm not sure what goes on in the trendier places - like the 5Towns or Teaneck)

Pragmatician said...

It's very smart to keep soft drinks restricted to Shabbes all three reasons you gave are very sound.
There was a time when coke was out of the shelves here and we had to improvise, use sparkling water, mix it with fruits, or with coffee(for the kids caffeine free of course) and see if anything potable comes out of the experiment.

Sabzi Aash said...

What about the Spring fruit drinks? Some places sell them very cheap. When I was last in Israel there was a toxic-looking green-colored one with cactus juice (and apple and pear, IIRC) - that was psychadelic enough for me. They also had a pina colada flavor.

Rolling hills of green said...

There are alot of juices with mixtures that appeal to kids, like tut-banana, lemon-nana, spring fruits. Or there is lemonade and stuff. For Bubbly we use RCQ, which is very sweet, but its for the kids only on shabbat so its ok.

ChakiraMan said...

Funny.... I've got 2 out of 5 of my children who will only drink Milk, Water and OJ.
As baby's/Toddlers, we never gave them soda, so I would guess that's where they got that from, though the others seem to have developed that sweet tooth and managed to aquire that taste for soda and all the other garbage Leibers and Pashketz makes.

I went with that idea of only serving the soda on Shabbos as well. It's trully affective, relative to kids bouncing off the walls, though didn't think of the "it's special for shabbos" idea - which is good to.

So here's the next issue... my boys seem to have a raffle in yeshiva a couple of times a week (just to get them to go).
So... what's it that they raffle off!? Let me help you... IT'S A CAN OF SODA... what's that all about!?!?!?!

So today they make toothpaste gum and the like. Maybe soon they'll come up with some sort of a healthy soda laced with say... ritalin..?!

Elie said...

We also only serve cola on Shabbos, though we're not so strict about what the kids drink when we/they go out to eat. During the week it's seltzer or OJ.

Elchonon said...

Coffee!! me and my roomates dont buy soda often. He drinks bear, the other is a ice tea guy and i drink COFFEE!! hey readers digest just wrote that 20 oz of coffee a day is healthy!!! uhhh ma od chadash tachat hashemesh?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Elchonon: I'm not going to give my kids coffee instead of Fanta!

Elie: When we go out to eat we also let the kids have soft drinks. Since going out to eat is not something we do every day, we don't have a problem with it. I really miss Tropicana from the OJ around :)

Rolling Hills & Sabzi: Those "spring" juices are a good idea. Thanks. (But they still can't match the disgusting colors of Fanta "Shokata")

Mirty: Israel does have "soda club" make your own soda gizmo's -- we'll have to think about it, whether it worth the hassle.

WBM: We got some Dr. Brown's at Meatland in Ra'anana, but it didn't hold any magic for the kids. Oh well.

Sarah; We're very big on wine for shabbat kiddush. Actually, that's probably a question in and of iteself. Some people are grape juice crazy, "no wine for the kids"...

Safranit; If tartrazine is so common in the US, then why are so many manufacturers in Israel dropping it from soup nuts? Is it just getting a bad rap?

ChakiraMan; They used to have a can of soda raffle at Eagle Day Camp...what a special treat THAT was.

Pragmat: My kids would love experimenting with different drinks. Doesn't matter if its potable, they will mix it all up and then lose interest about a second before they have to drink it...

Shtender said...

On a related note, I've heard that Miranda (the orange soda) cannot be sold in the US, because it uses a coloring which is not FDA approved.

Scraps said...

Mirinda cannot be sold in the US because it contains PCP instead of caffiene. Don't know about the coloring.

Aliza said...

We also had the soda only on shabbat rule, and you have made me sooo happy that the somewhat frightening colors of Fanta had exactly that effect on me, as I stick only to caffine-free diet coke (a mild addiction). Good luck with the kiddies and Fanta withdrawl over chag!

JJ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JJ said...

Congrats, Jameel, for standing firm and not letting your kids guzzle that garbage like most Israelis do. Every time I see a toddler with a bottle of Coke or similar junk I want to scream!

Our kids get milk, water, choco, and real juice (though we try to limit the amount of juice because it still has lots of sugar and fills them up too quickly).

They get petel (BLECH!!!) at b-day parties and love it, but I refuse to buy it.

Anyway...I guess my advice would be to let them have it on Shabbat- but maybe limit the amount somewhat. Denying them completely will only make them want it even more.

Oh, and re. Tropicana- it's funny, for the first several years I lived here I missed it desperately. Didn't like the local juice. Now, my palate's adjusted and I love the local stuff- when we're in the US and I drink Tropicana, it's too sweet!

Josh M. said...

The plaintiff claims that the Fanta drinks contain a combination of two ingredients—sodium preservatives and acerbic acid—that together create Benzene, which is believed to be a cancer-causing ingredient in humans.

As a chemical engineer, I can't leave this paragraph from the YNet article as is. Firstly, it is not any sodium preservative that can react to form benzene, but rather only sodium benzoate, which is chemically similar enough to undergo the reaction. Secondly, there is no such compound as "acerbic acid", which, translated into simple English means "acidic acid"; the correct chemical is ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C. End nerdy interruption.

bec said...

mmm...this is causing international cravings for miranda orange--does it really contain PCP???? maybe that's why i couldn't get enough of it in israel....
what about mixing different colored fruit juice? you still get the psychedelic glow without the problems later on.

FrumGirl said...

Why is everyone so against petel? I happen to think that raspberry petel combined with seltzer is pretty good!

The Observer said...

I'm surprised nobody has commented on the standard drink served in Israel to the little ones in gan: weak tea with lots of sugar. Shocked the heck out of us when we were there.

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BBJ said...

I think as long as the Fanta is only a Shabbos treat you're probably OK. (Unfortunatly this conversation has sparked a replay of the ads in my head--'Don't you wanta/Wanta Fanta?' My high school students once did a Shakespearean version of it as a commercial break for their production of "Romeo and Juliet". "Dost thou not wanta..."

Petel can't be as bad as Ribena. Tried kefir? That was my favorite as a kid.

Michael Kopinsky said...

Re: orange juice:

When I was in Israel, I could not believe how orange juice was almost entirely unavailable. The makolet didn't have any. Only at the supermarket could I get some, and it was crazy expensive - something like 18 shekel for 2 liters. I'm used to American orange juice from concentrate, which you can get for $1.25 or so for a can, which makes 2 liters of juice.

Woland said...

Worst of all are "Super drink"
All their products hav poisonous bright colors and insane amounts of sugar.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've been searching the net for some info on children's behavior problems. I checked out this site on children's behavior problems but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. And then I came across your site. Great blog - it kept me reading for a while! Like most parents I often wonder if I am going about things the right way, so it is nice to get other people's perspectives on things. Not sure I agreed with everything you said, but it got me thinking anyway. So, thanks for giving my brain a bit of a workout! Tom

Kamagra said...

Everytime science looks at this question, the behavioral effect of sugar gets smaller. Dessert is at the end of the meal and the beginning of freedom so maybe it's the parents saying "You may go now" that kicks off the spurt of activity.

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