Kids’ drinks hurt teeth, get bacteria, says KCA

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Kids’ drinks hurt teeth, get bacteria, says KCA

The Korea Consumer Agency warned parents that children’s drinks can cause cavities and cause other health problems.

The KCA, in cooperation with the Fair Trade Commission, released its third consumer report on children’s drinks yesterday. It investigated 17 beverages marketed to children for pH levels, sugar concentration and risk of bacteria proliferation.

“Many parents buy drinks marketed with cartoon characters expecting that children’s drinks are much healthier than normal drinks,” said Hong Joon-bae, director of the KCA’s testing and research department for food. “Parents should remember that these drinks are not nutritional food, although it may say ‘healthy’ on the labels.”

All the drinks had pH levels between 2.7 and 3.8, which is similar to the level in cola or cider. A pH level under 5.5 can erode the enamel on teeth and cause cavities.

Out of 127 drinks, 13 drinks showed signs of bacteria growth within four hours at room temperature after children had sipped them.

“As children tend to take slower sips than adults, more saliva is backwashed into the drink and bacteria starts to grow,” Hong said.

The KCA recommends buying smaller-sized beverages that children can finish more quickly. It also recommends that children wait 30 minutes before brushing their teeth after drinking the beverages. Immediate brushing can damage enamel weakened by the acidic drinks.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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