Parents, teachers, and juice box-loving adults be warned; researchers at Indiana State University have discovered five different types of fungus in popular kids' drink Capri Sun.
Luckily, the researchers say the fungi probably aren't harmful, as our immune system is accustomed to dealing with fungi found in the soil, air, and sometimes on our skin.
"Those of us with healthy immune systems, we could even eat [the fungi in Capri Sun, and that wouldn’t be a problem," study researcher Kathleen Dannelly told LiveScience. For people with unstable immune systems, though, like people suffering from AIDS, leukemia, or cystic fibrosis, it might be a concern.
Researchers filtered Capri Sun through filter paper, and then checked to see if fungi were left behind; Dannelly notes that if any opened juice was tested, she would expect to find both fungus and bacteria.
In another experiment, Capri Sun packages were punctured with a sterile needle and left in a sterile environment. In three weeks, researchers found that fungal mats had grown in the juice.
Of course, fungus can grow in most types of juice, and Kraft acknowledges that Capri Sun is at risk for fungi growth. "Since there are no preservatives in our drinks, mold can grow, especially in a leaking pouch," Kraft writes on its website.
The juices are pasteurized, but lack preservatives necessary to keep fungi at bay, and if packages are punctured, even microscopically, air entering the package would spur mold to grow. "Among the many, many millions of pouches we sell each year, [mold growth] does happen from time to time because the product is preservative free," Kraft says on its website. Kraft has said it will not add preservatives, even natural preservatives like citric acid, because consumers wouldn't want this.
Other than discarding leaking pouches, there's little consumers can do to prevent fungal growth in their Capri Sun. Even worse, packages are not transparent, meaning you won't be able to see the fungal mats unless you cut open a pouch and pour the juice out. Which is just to say, we recommend juicing on your own.