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The case of mould findings in some juice cartons: here are natural ways to cleanse your system after exposure

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Mould on food is a common issue that most households encounter. While it certainly is not appetising, it often raises questions.

Studies have shown that garlic has antifungal properties that can help eliminate fungi, mould, and yeasts. Picture: Karolina Grabowska

Mould on food is a common issue that most households encounter. While it certainly is not appetising, it often raises questions.

FRUIT juice is a refreshing and (sometimes) healthy option when compared with sodas and other high-sugar beverages.

But there is nothing much worse than finding lumps of mould floating around in your juice carton.

So what are the health effects of consuming mouldy juice and what can you do?

We spoke to a pharmacist, complementary medicine expert and life coach, Giulia Criscuolo, on the health implications of drinking mouldy juice.

Mould on food is a common issue that most households encounter. While it certainly is not appetising, it often raises questions.

In recent weeks, South African consumers were shocked to find something unusual upon emptying some Liqui Fruit juice cartons.

In December 2023, the fruit juice brand trended on X after consumers called out the manufacturer, PepsiCo-owned Pioneer Foods, for not addressing the concerns of consumers over “slimy stuff” that was found in the juice.

Consumers who encountered the substance took to social media to advise others to pour their packaged juices into transparent containers before consuming them until the brand issued a report on what could be the possible cause.

Addressing the situation, the brand acknowledged that mould has been detected in certain batches of Liqui Fruit juices.

“Regrettably, in some isolated instances, mould has been detected in certain batches of Liqui Fruit juices. As a trusted provider of premium fruit juices, Liqui Fruit products are manufactured under strict quality control procedures to ensure that products of the highest standard reach their consumers.

“Furthermore, Liqui Fruit juices adhere to applicable food manufacturing regulations and legal requirements, which the factories ensure compliance with international food safety standards.

“During our production process, the juice is de-aerated (all air removed from the pack), flash pasteurised, filtered through various sifting systems, and packed in aseptic conditions.

“Hence, all packaging material, machinery, and juice are commercially sterile,” they said.

When it comes to the mould formation on the selected products, they said food scientists had been resourced to identify the causes of the presence of mould.

The team said it had been confirmed by their specialists on inspection of the complaint samples, that investigated packs appeared to have been linked to compromised packaging.

“The compromised packages occur as the product is packed irregularly over long distances – possibly breaking the seal of the Liqui Fruit juice, resulting in oxygen infiltrating the preservative-free, 100 % fruit juice and creating mould formation over time.

“Food scientists at Pioneer Foods (Pty) Ltd have also advised that mould formation of compromised packaging has been worsened by warm weather conditions, as the product travels to reach consumers, pressure builds inside the pack compromising the preservative-free 100 % juice,” they said.

Last month, a similar controversy occurred involving Woolworths Food.

A post from a concerned customer, Lulama Lulu, circulated on X, accompanied by disturbing images depicting what appeared to be foreign substances found in a juice carton, raising concerns about product quality and safety.

As the post went viral, Woolworths’ official social media accounts were tagged in comments by concerned consumers.

Woolworths responded, stating that they take the matter seriously and were launching an internal investigation to determine the source of the alleged contamination.

So, what health effects can be caused by consuming mouldy juice and what can you do?

Criscuolo said swallowing mould can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, sneezing, eye irritation, fever, rashes, chronic coughing or headaches.

She said if you have a weakened immune system or a severe allergic reaction, the symptoms may be more serious.

“If you accidentally drink mould from a juice or water bottle, make sure to stop drinking immediately, spit out the remainder of the liquid, and rinse your mouth. Monitor for any unusual symptoms and drink lots of water.

“Seek medical attention if symptoms appear as mould contains potentially harmful toxins and spores that can cause serious health problems if ingested,” said Criscuolo.

If you have been exposed to mould, here are a few ways she suggests to cleanse your system naturally.

Eat raw garlic

Studies have shown that garlic has antifungal properties that can help eliminate fungi, mould, and yeasts. It is also a proven immune booster and detoxifier.

Take activated charcoal

Activated charcoal can be used as a natural treatment for mould cleansing. It traps toxins in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so that the body does not reabsorb it.

Take spirulina

Spirulina contains chlorophyll that can neutralise free radicals in the body to help prevent damage to cells and tissues caused by toxic mould.

It also has powerful antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great addition to any healthy diet.

Marcus Rohrer spirulina is 100 % nature-based and contains over 100 nutrients and minerals, making it one of the most nutrient-rich whole foods in the world.

Avoid sugar

Fungi, which include moulds and yeasts, require the presence of sugar to survive. Eliminate or cut down on your sugar intake to reduce mould symptoms and eliminate mould in the body.

Criscuolo added: “To prevent future incidents, opt for clear juice bottles where you can see the contents as you cannot tell from looking at a juice box if it contains mould and most times you will not know until you reach the bottom of the container.”

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