Bubble Tea: Warning of choking hazard



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Risk of swallowing at bubble tea: Federal Minister of Consumer Affairs Ilse Aigner plans warnings due to health risks

So-called “bubble tea” bars are opening on almost every corner of larger cities in Germany. For a few months now, the fruity fashion drinks from the Far East have been littered with fierce criticism. Can the beverages pose a health risk for the preferably young consumers? The Federal Minister of Consumer Affairs Ilse Aigner (CSU) therefore demands visible warnings on the beverages due to the risk of ingestion. The opposition does not go far enough. In addition, notes on ingredients and calories of bubble teas should be attached.

Pneumonia caused by swallowing the pearls. The professional association of pediatricians (BVKJ) initiated the debate. The doctors warned against swallowing the colored balls in the fashion drinks. "If children swallow the balls, pneumonia and, in the worst case, a lung collapse can follow," warned the medical team at the beginning of March this year. The position was now followed by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). An examination showed that the sweet balls in the tea drink "can get into the respiratory tract of small children". Because the health of children can be at great risk, the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection is now demanding appropriate warnings when selling bubble tea.

Providers should put up warning notices In order to initiate rapid implementation, "Associations and food surveillance should ask bubble tea providers to draw attention to the dangers," said a spokesman for the ministry. If possible, this should be done with uniform warnings. The spokesman for the ministry also said that the Federal Risk Institute's review had concluded that warning signs of this kind were required to draw attention to the dangers of swallowing the pearls.

The chairman of the nutrition committee of the German Bundestag and FDP nutrition expert Hans-Michael Goldmann also demanded that the colored tea be clearly identified. "I call for clear warnings," said the politician on Thursday in Berlin.

Colorful balls like chewing gum Because the balls have a consistency that resembles chewing gum, especially small children could not bite the pearls, as the chairman of the Federal Association of Pediatricians, Dr. Wolfram Hartmann explained. Small children who soak up the balls with a thick straw could easily choke on them. If these get into the lungs via the bronchi, the pearls could trigger pneumonia.

Lo Ming, saleswoman of bubble tea in Berlin, finds the debate "exaggerated". Since running her shop, she has never seen a child who has seriously choked. In fact, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs "was not notified of any complications caused by bubble tea". There were no reports of this in Germany or abroad, as the spokesman emphasized.

The same precautions as for peanuts and gummy bears Nevertheless, parents of children up to the age of four should take the same precautionary measures that apply to eating peanuts, grapes or gummy bears. "Because of the risk of ingestion or inhalation, parents of small children should be particularly careful here," said the Ministry of Consumer Affairs spokesman.

Implementation not far-reaching enough The Greens' parliamentary group accuses the Minister of Consumer Affairs Aigner of only taking action on the subject of "bubble tea" under pressure from the opposition. The party recently launched a small request to the federal government. The deputy group leader Bärbel Höhn (Greens) said "the announced warnings are one thing", but her party calls for additional and equally accessible information about the nutrient and calorie content. After all, many varieties of pearl teas contain "twice as much sugar as cola" and are therefore real fattening agents. "Consumers must be able to see what a calorie bomb the drink is." The nutrition expert at the FDP also requested clear information in Reference “to the caffeine and sugar content.” The Stiftung Warentest had found in an investigation that a single cup of the tea drink can contain up to 30 sugar cubes, said Goldmann.

Bubble Tea No Longer a Natural Drink Today Around 27 years ago, bubble tea was first served in Taiwan. At that time the drink was still a natural product made of black, green or Olong tea, today there is hardly anything left of it. The pearls consisted of the starch from the cassava root and were boiled with maple syrup for 30 minutes. Another component is the so-called "popping bobas". These contain fruit syrups in different flavors that burst in the mouth when chewed and ensure a fruity taste experience.

When bubble tea began its triumphal march outside of Asia, there was hardly anything left of the original mixture. According to a manufacturer, the drinks today contain heavily sweetened green or black tea, which is mixed with milk and fruit syrup and prepared like a milkshake. Many artificial colors, preservatives and aromas have been added. Nutritionist Sven-David Müller said the main problem was the heavily sweetened syrup. This covers the “daily ration of calories by a third”. There is “hardly anything left of the former natural drink.” The term “tea” would “mislead” consumers because it is suggested that it is a tea mix drink. In addition, the foundation had determined that the drinks were no longer a natural tea drink, but an "artificial soft drink with synthetic colors and flavors".

Strong sales thanks to pearl teas From January to April 2012 alone, the vendors of the bubble tea had sales of around 4.4 million euros, according to market research company GfK. However, market researchers assume that the trend will only last a few years because the flavors are "still relatively new" today. When the first wave is over, the number of providers will drop sharply again. "Because the tea is new, the rush is still big," market researchers explain. A few years later, the new one is "old" again. (sb)

Read also about bubble tea:
Bubble tea contains more sugar than cola
Bubble Tea: Sweet and unhealthy cult drink
Often unknown ingredients in bubble tea
Consumer advocates warn of bubble tea
Health warning before bubble tea
Bubble Tea: Modern fattening agent
Lung collapse due to bubble teas


Video: Boba Drink Warning


Comments:

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