Juice Boxes

19 September 2023

Parents, grandparents, nannies, pretty much anyone knows the value of that little juice box.  They are convenient for both the adult and child and represents a snack or special treat.

Technically they are an “aseptic package”.  That means the product is processed at a very high temperature and then sealed in sterile containers.  This allows them to remain without refrigeration for long periods of time and the packaging is resistant to oxygen and light.  This makes them easy to store and have a longer shelf life than bottles or other containers that need to be kept cool.

Juice does not substitute the need for raw fruit because the latter provides fiber that juice cannot.  Make sure your children also drink sufficient amounts of milk and plain, old water during the day.

Just like most products, you need to read the label.  The first ingredient should always be fruit juice.  Avoid those that start with concentrate, water, or sugar.  If the package reads “light,” the juice could be diluted with water or have an artificial sweetener.  When you look at the percentages, choose the brand that offers the highest percentage of Vitamin C.  The word “organic” does not necessarily make it healthy.  Look for those products that have been exposed to artificial heat and are fully pasteurized.

Why would someone add sugar to the juice?  First, to make it more enticing to young ones but also the sugar is a preservative.

The American Academy of Pediatrics makes these recommendations:

  • Ages 1 to 6: 4 to 6 ounces per day
  • Ages 7 to 10: 8 to 12 ounces per day

The boxes generally come in 4.23 or 6.75 ounce sizes, so the calculations are pretty easy.  Too much juice can result in excessive weight gain and toddler diarrhea.  Young children can easily damage the newly erupted teeth and persistent diarrhea is not only unpleasant but can dehydrate a little one very quickly.

When shopping, look for some details like these:

  • To reiterate, read the label and buy 100% juice with as few additives as possible.
  • Select only those products that have been pasteurized. Non-pasturized juice has the potential to allow infections and induce diarrhea.
  • Limit the time the child sips on the drink. Prolonged exposure to sugary liquids can lead to dental issues.

The last concern is about the environment.  There was initial concern about the empty boxes adding to the land fill since they are less convenient to recycle.  Some states have considered legislation to ban the use of aseptic containers.  The Aseptic Packaging Council (APC) was formed in 1989 and is working in conjunction with communities to incorporate juice boxes into the local recycling programs.  Their platform is that the size of the boxes take less room on trucks so fuel is conserved in the transport (because they can pack more on a single delivery = fewer trips).   Also, the aseptic filling process requires less energy to operate than a traditional canning or bottling firm.  They have not addressed the land fill issue.

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