Red 40 in Designer Waters and Other Dangers

I find this article extremely important and very alarming. It's rather long but very informative.

By now you have probably seen the ads for MiO Liquid Water Enhancer, Kraft Foods' new gimmick aimed at young consumers seeking "cool" new ways to stand out among their peers. Leave it to the food and beverage industry to find a way to turn your perfectly healthful water into a mixture of toxic chemicals. This latest craze has you squeezing brightly colored flavor drops into your water from a cute little purse-sized bottle, and watching the mesmerizing nebula of color diffuse slowly into the clear water.

Very clever… a science experiment you can drink.

The market has been flooded with "functional waters," fortified (supposedly) with everything from vitamins and minerals to electrolytes, oxygen, fiber, and even protein. Supermarket beverage aisles can entice you along a virtual sea of beverage choices—energy drinks, vitamin waters, fitness waters, and sports/electrolyte concoctions in every imaginable color and flavor.

You can even buy a bottle of water infused with positive affirmations, said to "raise the consciousness of humanity" (Aquamantra). Or how about this one—bottled water fortified for your dog, called FortiFido?

But if you take a closer look at the labels, you'll discover they're spiking your punch with a lot of unsavory ingredients, many capable of wreaking havoc on your metabolism, hormones, and other physiological processes—and some of which are outright carcinogenic.

If you aren't already a label reader, it's time you became one, lest you fall prey to these clever marketing ploys.

Flashy labels, pretty colors, and seductive scents are not always harmless to your health—but they are incredibly alluring, especially to kids. Your child will be drawn in like an Emu to dangly earrings. So what's in this cute little bottle of liquid "water enhancer" with the equally cute name?

Mama MIO! More Like Factory Runoff than a Beverage
Here is the ingredient list for the Mango Peach variety of MiO:

Water, Malic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, "natural flavor," Sucralose, Acesulfame potassium, Potassium citrate, Polysorbate 60, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Potassium Sorbate (preservative).

Basically, this is a scary mixture of TWO artificial sweeteners, THREE dyes, one preservative, and propylene glycol (PG)—a solvent that can potentially result in cell mutations and skin, liver, and kidney damage, if ingested in high enough amounts. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates propylene glycol as a moderate hazard.

Artificial sweeteners are bad news for your health (they can lead to impaired kidney function, depression, headaches, infertility, brain tumors, and a long list of other serious health problems) and are unnecessary food additives—because there are SAFE natural sweetener alternatives.

All artificial sweeteners are risky, and MiO contains TWO of them!

Let's look at the rap sheets for some of MiO's flavor "enhancements":

•Sucralose (an artificial sweetener otherwise known as Splenda) is associated with respiratory difficulties, migraines, seizures, gastrointestinal problems, heart palpitations, and weight gain, and the list of reported problems is growing by the day.
•Acesulfame potassium (or Acesulfame-K) is another artificial sweetener that has been linked to kidney tumors.
•Food dyes have been connected to a variety of health problems, including allergic reactions, hyperactivity, decreased IQ in children, and numerous forms of cancer—and MiO has THREE of them.
•Polysorbate 60 is an emulsifying agent that, like PG, is rated as a moderate health concern by EWG and can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane, two carcinogenic industrial pollutants.
Now, why go to the trouble of purifying your water, only to dump right back into it what you have just filtered out—a bunch of toxic chemicals?

This makes NO sense at all.

But MiO is just one example of a much larger problem. Enhanced waters have become an enormously lucrative business as people have begun to abandon soda pop for what they believe are better alternatives. Beverage battles (and now, water wars) have left manufacturers clamoring to come up with products that outdo all the rest. Are these beverages really better for you than soda? Not by a long shot.

Dysfunctional Beverages… Think Before You Drink
I don't want you to think I've singled out MiO as the big villain—it's just the most recent new recruit.

USA Today February 22, 2011

Guardian March 31, 2011

Fooducate April 11, 2011

Men’s Journal October 23, 2009


  1. Thanks for sharing this! A very interesting article!!!
    We're not that big into the "special" waters here in Spain. Just plain bottled water from mountain local springs, which much as many of us would like to avoid, we can't because the water coming out of our taps is just... UGH!!! (very heavy on the chlorine). My parents just took advantage of a big rennovation project on their appartment to install a water treatment system so they're finally going to be able to enjoy the tap water!
    But I must say many people in Spain probably drink more beer than they do water... :p

    The question of recycling the plastic is one that has had me worried for some time... It's funny this article should mention the Pacific trash island, I just posted about it yesterday!

  2. Yep, mio is getting invasive. I wasn't able to watch a clip on hulu the other weekend until I had filled out a short survey on my impressions of "fitness water"... the survey was nothing more than a MIO advertisement.

  3. About two years ago, I cut my hand while washing a glass and required over 20 stitches. It gave me such an aversion to glasses, I tossed all mine out and couldn't even look at glass. I started using plastic cups.

    Interestingly, this morning I was googling to find info about plastic cups/bottles and cancer link. I told my husband I want to get rid of all the plastic and get new glasses.
    AND then I check out your site and read this.
    THANK YOU for all the info. It's very concise and informative.

    I hope you don't mind me linking this particular post on my blog at some point and also sending the link via email to friends.

  4. Very informative article - so glad I only drink clear, bottled water. I sent you an email about your blog button, but thought I would also let you know here that I finished the post and you can check it anytime you're ready.

    Also stop by tomorrow for the Social Saturdays link party...I would love to see you there! :)



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