Magic Stick Freezepops — $1.99 for 20.

It's hot, the kids are grumpy and you will get at least 10 minutes peace if you pull something sweet and cold out of the freezer.

Little plastic tubes of sweet, coloured water frozen in the freezer have always been popular with kids.

But, as I discovered when I looked at the Zooper Dooper ice sticks, they can be full of preservatives, artificial flavours and artificial colours.

These caught my eye when they were on special at my supermarket because they had none of these nasty ingredients.

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But then, as is often the case, there was one lurking near the bottom of the list.

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first)

Water - As you would expect with an ice block, most of these little tubes are filled with water.

Sugar - You will get 3.75g sugar per 50ml serving which is just under one teaspoon. This is great on the surface, but artificial sweetener is used later to bulk up the sugar taste.

Acidity regulator - citric acid - Citric acid is a natural product and is also sometimes added to provide a tart flavour.

Stabiliser - pectin - Pectin naturally occurs in fruit and helps jam set. It will be in here to keep the liquid thick.

Natural flavourings - This is great news. Normally getting flavours such as strawberry, tropical, cola, raspberry and blackcurrant would take a lot of artificial flavourings.

Artificial sweetener - saccharin - For an all-natural product it is disappointing to see an artificial sweetener like saccharin in here. Most foods now replace saccharin with aspartame because of its controversial past. Studies on animals showed that it can cause cancer and increase the potency of other cancer-causing chemicals. In 1977, the American Food and Drug Association asked for it to be banned, but they were unsuccessful. However, products containing saccharin were required to have a warning notice printed on their labels explaining that it may be hazardous to your health. In 1997 the diet-food industry lobbied to get that removed, and in 2001 saccharin was removed from the US Government list of cancer-causing chemicals. Later that year the requirement for a warning notice on labels was lifted. Most healthy eaters steer clear of artificial sweeteners, especially saccharin.

Natural colours - anthocyanins, turmeric, caramel, paprika - All these colours are natural with the exception of caramel which is made by heating sugars with various substances such as ammonia or sulphur. It is impossible to tell which caramel is used here as the producers have not given clearer information.

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You won't find any blues or purples in this pack, the colours are all red and yellow tinged.

My recommendations

On the one hand, you have a low sugar treat with no preservatives, artificial colour or artificial flavours, which is great. But, then you have some artificial sweetener in there which healthy eaters avoid.

As an alternative to other products I would choose this one over them, reasoning that what you save in reducing artificial flavours and colours is a major plus not much reduced by saccharin. But, if like me, you won't go near saccharin then this product isn't for you or your kids.

These are also made in Ireland of all places, so if you're concerned about food miles these aren't great.

Highlights

• No artificial flavours, artificial colours or preservatives.
• Does have artificial sweetener saccharin.
• Low sugar.


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