CHOICE tested 20 different sour lolly products and found their acid levels all fell in the danger zone for tooth enamel, with prolonged contact with your teeth, tongue and gums likely to cause burns, ulceration, bleeding and long term dental damage.
When a woman posted a picture on Facebook of the “hole” in her son’s tongue, alleging that it was the result of him eating Warhead sour lollies, the story received international attention. People were horrified that a lolly could have this effect. But as CHOICE discovered the damage is not unheard of.
“We tested the acid levels of sour lollies following Facebook reports that a number of children had received burns to their tongues and gums after consuming the products,” says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.
“Obviously you don’t expect lollies to be healthy but you also don’t expect them to harm your child. The side-effects of extremely acidic lollies could be more than you’d bargained for.
“Sucking and holding highly acidic lollies against your tongue, cheeks or gums for extended periods of time might cause soft tissue damage,” Mr Godfrey says.
But it’s not just the potential soft tissue damage that’s cause for concern. CHOICE’s acid test found every sour lolly tested had a pH of less than 3.3 – a pH of 5.5 or less is the danger zone for enamel erosion.
“Irreversible damage to teeth is a real threat from these products. Under acidic conditions tooth enamel can start to dissolve, and the more acid in the mouth, the harder it is for a person’s saliva to neutralise its effects and protect teeth,” says Mr Godfrey.
“When you consider stomach acid has a pH of about one, sucking on TNT Mega Sour Grenade (pH 1.83) and Brain Licker Sour Candy Drink (pH 1.94) could seem less appealing.
“Toxic Waste Sour Smog Balls (pH 2.3) and Warheads Juniors Extreme Sour (pH 2.39) were also highly acidic, as was Toxic Waste Hazardously Sour Candy (pH 2.3) that challenges kids to keep the lollies in their mouths for up to 60 seconds to be crowned a ‘full toxic head’.
“Somewhat alarmingly, TNT’s Mega Sour Grenade even provides a warning, ‘in case of eye contact, flush with clean water’!
“Obviously the best advice is to limit your intake of sugary and highly acidic foods and drinks. At the very least, rinsing with tap water immediately after eating sour lollies will help to neutralize the acids, and minimise the potential for that lolly binge to end on a sour note,” Mr Godfrey says.
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