By Moses Nosike
Preservatives and additives have been commonly used in producing packaged foods and beverages to increase shelf-life and reduce the loss of taste or ingredients in the product before consumption. Common preservatives used in food production include benzoates, nitrites and sulphites.
Research studies have shown that consumption of preservatives over a period of time could have negative effects on human health. Preservative consumption could be a source of breathing problems like asthma and bronchitis, and some have been known to weaken heart cells, body tissues, and cause cancer.
Nigerian consumers are exposed to preservatives in some of the products they consume in polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or plastic bottles, as they are commonly called. Even beverages that are supposed to be “natural” and “beneficial” for human health, have been known to contain preservatives like Potassium Sorbate and Trisodium Citrate, which diminish some of the benefits of the beverage and cause harm to the body.
For food products that contain natural ingredients which promote the overall well- being of individuals, inclusion of harmful preservatives in the foods or drinks could negate most, if not all of the natural ingredients in the product. With this fact in mind, we decided to examine a few “natural” beverages sold in the Nigerian market. For this report, we narrowed down to the Ice Tea category, and decided to focus our analysis on Chivita Ice Tea, the first Ready-to-Drink (RTD) Ice Tea brand produced by Chi Limited which was launched into Nigeria about a decade ago.
Chivita Ice Tea, a product which claims to offer consumers all the natural benefits of tea extracts, is the only Ice Tea brand in Nigeria that is produced in aseptic packaging. The Aseptic packaging production process is a specialized process in which food or other contents are processed separately and filled into the aseptic container or pack in a sterile environment that is safe and free of all harmful bacteria and free from human intervention.
This type of packaging allows the food and beverage products to be transported over long distances, stored, and sold on shelves without refrigeration, thereby enabling the product have a stable shelf life of between 6-18 months, depending on the product. Thus, production in aseptic packaging is an innovative technology in the food and beverage industry that does not require the use of preservatives or additives to retain the product’s natural benefits before consumption.
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According to research, tea is the most frequently consumed beverage in the world after water. On any given day, more than half of the human population consumes tea in one form or another. Tea keeps the body hydrated and also contains antioxidants, known to reverse the signs of ageing, fight free radicals in the body, reduce stress, and enable aid mental rejuvenation.