Oros juice! you must have heard about it at some point especially if you grew up in South Africa. Oros was one of the first concentrated juices to make its way into the South African market. It became a huge success as you paid a fraction of what a bag of oranges cost and got a similar orange flavour. The Oros brand has grown over the years to include other flavours and products that kids and parents absolutely love. And why wouldn’t they? The packaging is colourful and appears ‘fun’ and the parent is assured that their little one will enjoy the sweetness with some ‘necessary’ nutrients and no tartrazine. At first glance, Oros seems like a great product to buy for yourself and your family. However once you zoom in and read all the ingredients on the label, you will realise that if health is what you are after, this is one product that you MUST leave on the supermarket shelf. Lets take a closer look at Oros juice…
Only 6% juice concentrate – by law the front label of the bottle indicates that it contains only 6% juice concentrate. 2 litres of juice concentrate only has less than half a cup of orange juice. Now you do the math, if this container only has that much juice pulp, what is the rest made up of? And what makes it so thick? Already those are warning bells for me, that this is not the best juice available on the market. So I bought a container of orange-flavoured Oros juice, and had a look at the ingredients to see what else goes into this popular juice.
Water – ok this one is not bad at all, after all medical research states that we need 6-8 glasses of water daily.
Sugar thats why the concentrate is so sweet, the second ingredient is sugar (companies list their ingredients in products from largest quantity to smallest quantity). If you have ever tried a juice concentrate on its own without water dilution, you will know that the sweetness leaves a burning sensation in the throat. Every 1 glass of Oros juice contains 9 % sugar, which is too much for the body to handle, especially if you drink more than one glass daily and children sometimes drink 4 or more glasses daily. Sugar is the number 1 cause of obesity and diabetes in the world and being responsible for acidity in the body that is the main cause of ALL disease.
Malic Acid– Since so little juice concentrate is added to Oros juice, they have to add food additives to enhance the taste. Malic acid occurs naturally in fruits such as apples and lemons, it provides the sour taste in the fruit. The malic acid used in Oros juice is synthetic with the E number 296. Synthetic malic acid is extracted from fruit that is heated and then diluted with sulphur dioxide. High concentrations of malic acid are not suitable for young children as it is difficult to digest. It is also known for causing allergic reactions such as skin irritations.
Flavourings– flavourings are an imitation of the flavour of a known foodstuff, since this is the cheap way of cheating the tongue that you are drinking orange juice. Synthetic flavourings are produced in large quantities and are very cheap for manufactures. This type of food additive, with frequent exposure, has been linked to behavioural disorders such as irritability, restlessness and anxiety. The flavouring that is used is not specified on the container and maybe it should be, with so many people suffering from allergies. It could be made up of random chemicals that you have no idea of the effect they could have on you or your children. Are you willing to bet your childrens health on such an unknown?
Colourants (E104 E110) – That pretty orange colour is not from orange juice pulp – it as created and added to make the juice appealing. E 104 is the colour quinoline yellow ( a yellow/ orange colour), which is known to increase hyperactivity (ADHD) in children. It is already banned in places such as Japan, Australia and America, so why are we still adding it to our food in South Africa? E 110 is the colour sunset yellow, it is a histamine liberator which can trigger asthma for suffers and is also linked with hyperactivity in kids. Other side effects include rhitinis (a runny nose) and nasal congestion.
Sodium Metabisulfite ( E223)- is a preservative that keeps foods “fresh” for a VERY long time. That is why some products take so long to expire and sit for months and months on shelves. It may cause allergic reactions to people who are allergic to sulfites by blocking the airway, causing coughing and respiratory reactions for people who suffer from asthma, it has an oxidizing effect which reduces the vitamin content in products. Sodium metabisulfite is used on frozen potatoes to keep them from going black when exposed to air. If you take some of this powder and place it directly onto your tongue, it will start to bleed instantaneously. How does it make it ok to have in lower concentrations?
Sodium Benzoate ( E 211) – Another synthetic preservative, which is a mould inhibitor that is added to Oros concentrate. Studies have also linked this to disruptive behaviour and hyperactivity in children. A combination of sodium benzoate and vitamin C or E causes Benzene (remember oranges are rich in Vitamin C so even the 6 % added in this juice has some vitamin C) . Benzene is a well-known carcinogen which creates cancer-causing free radicals. Cancer is a cumulative process and by exposing yourself daily to potential carcinogens that are in a lot of foodstuffs, you could increase your chances of getting cancer. As much as sodium benzoate increases the shelf life of your juice, it is busy shortening yours.
Children are the targeted consumers of Oros, the cartoon characters and the repetitive engaging television adverts get them hooked to the idea of high-energy high-calorie drinks. There are so many other companies that use similar ingredients in their products and are targeting children in their marketing strategy. As a parent it is your responsibility to make the decision for your child before they are old enough to decide for themselves. Giving your child one glass of Oros juice probably wont do much harm, but a combination of juice and biscuits and other processed foods with terrible ingredients will definitely have an effect. This might not be today or tomorrow or in a year, but eventually eating habits catch up with a person! All this can be prevented, by a simple lifestyle change – instead of drinking concentrated cordials, make your own juice, fresh, preservative-free and healthier.
Juicing is very simple, all you need is a quality masticating type juicer like the Greenis or the Oscar. They extract the liquid from your fruits and vegetables without reducing the nutrient content and provide you with natural 100% juice. Many juicing books are available that provide hundreds of nutritious recipes. The best part is that you can decide on your own flavour combinations and make it according to your taste buds and nutritional needs. Remember that food is medicine. Health is something that we must treasure and protect, the best way to do so is by watching what goes into our mouths.
They say knowing is not doing. Now that you know how bad Oros is for you and your family, you might consider striking it from your shopping list and teaching everyone to drink more water ( with a squeeze of orange or lemon in) or a real juice made with real fruit. Or a very inexpensive green juice.