Jun 28, 2017

The truth behind Quaker Oats milk


 I neither watch TV nor I read newspapers. So the only way I get to know about latest packaged food launches is through food bloggers who write sponsored/promotional posts. One such product that is being promoted aggressively is “Quaker Oats + Milk”. And the caption that caught my attention is “Co-created with Sachin Tendulkar”.

Before we proceed, let me admit that I used to be a huge, huge fan of Sachin when he was playing active cricket. After retirement, I was hoping that he would teach his batting skills to talented youngsters, become a mentor / coach or something. It is a shame that he decided to co-create “junk foods”. 

Let me first list down the facts about this drink. 

It is a milk-based drink, made with oats (India’s one-of-a-kind grain-dairy beverage). It comes in two flavours - almond and mango. The product’s promise is that it has fiber advantage and helps in digestion. 

I looked at the ingredients list of the almond flavoured milk. Guess what! There is no almonds listed anywhere. Are the almonds hiding inside “added flavours”?
 
 
“Oats” is promoted as the primary ingredient in their messaging and packaging. But the percentage of oats flour is only 3.5% and listed after “sugar” (which means, the quantity of sugar is more than oats). If the quantity of oats is so less, where does the “fiber” come from?

The key ingredient to note here is “polydextrose”. 

As per Wikipedia,
“Polydextrose is a synthetic polymer of glucose. It is frequently used to increase the non-dietary fiber content of food, to replace sugar, and to reduce calories and fat content.”
It is an artificial way to increase fiber intake. Do we need to start off our mornings with such synthetic fibre additives, when a bowl of fruits or a veg salad can give natural fiber, vitamins, minerals and wholesome nourishment to our bodies?

The packaging itself states, “Polydextrose may have laxative effects”.  Some of the side effects of polydextrose include intestinal gas (flatulence), bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. One might argue that these side effects are applicable only when consumed in large quantities. My point is not about the quantity of intake but rather questioning the need for such artificial fiber.

Here’s a good read on artificial fibre in the form of polydextrose that’s been added to foods to disguise junk as “health foods”.

Now, let’s come to the 3 stabilizers listed in this pack.

460(i) - Microcrystalline cellulose
It is a term for refined wood pulp. Commercially prepared from wood and cotton. Please note that the majority of cotton production in the world is GMO. 

Cellulose is non soluble, but can be fermented in the large intestine. Large concentrations can cause intestinal problems, such as bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. Due to this fact it cannot be used in weaning foods for infants. (Source)

446 - Succistearin 
Succistearin (stearoyl propylene glycol hydrogen succinate) is produced by the reaction of succinic anhydride, propylene glycol, and fully hydrogenated vegetable oil. It is used as an emulsifier in or with shortenings and edible oils, to help improve the tenderness in baked goods and bakery items. Used in foods such as dairy-based drinks, processed cheese, fat spreads, processed fruits, confectionary, bakery products, processed meats, beer and wines. Not permitted in Australia. (Source

As per this site, this additive is approved in US but not permitted in EU, Australia and New Zealand.

407 - Carrageenan
Carrageenan is a natural polysaccharide that has been extracted from red seaweeds, Chrondrus crispus, Gigartina stellata, Euchema spinosum, E. cottonii, as a gelatinous substance. High concentrations bring about flatulence and bloating. It is suspected to have effects on the immune system and to cause cancer. (Source)

Research has linked food-grade carrageenan to gastrointestinal disease in laboratory animals, including ulcerative colitis-like disease, intestinal lesions and ulcerations and colon cancer. (Source). In other animal studies, results indicated that when carrageenan was subject to high temperatures and acidity that it may cause ulcers and gastrointestinal cancer. (Source)

I have only scratched the surface when it comes to the side-effects of these additives. But the reasons are more than sufficient for me to never touch this pack. 

If I want to have a grain-dairy beverage, I would drink a glass of sathu-maavu kanji (health-mix drink) or sprouted ragi porridge. For fibre, my fruits, vegetables and millets are doing a wonderful job, thank you very much. 

No polydextrose and synthetic fibre for me, even if was co-created by Sachin himself.

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