Nothing cools you down better than a bowl of ice-cream. For its unique and tasty chill, the cold dessert is popular in both summers and winters. But what are the safety risks hidden behind the delicious treat that gives satiety and quenches the heat?
To find out the truth, Test-it™ selected 29 most popular ice-cream products in the market and joined hands with professional laboratory to perform safety tests using the world leading bio-testing technology Testing 2.0. Based on the test results, it rated 12 products as Green Fish (Excellent), seven products as Yellow Fish (Basic) and 10 products as Red Fish (Sub-optimal).
The results showed that Swiss brands had the best safety performance. In theory, food additives do not pose health threats when their use is in compliance with the standard, but if mixed with other additives or ingredients, they may produce toxic compounds and compromise food safety.
According to World Health Organization and United Nations, choosing the wrong product could cause cancers, infertility, precocious puberty, obesity and neurological disorders. Test-it™ provide clear, direct test reports with lifestyle tips. Equipped with scientific and objective information, consumers can make safer purchasing choices.
Stay tuned for more interesting facts.
Findings of Test-it™
Samples are classified into high-priced, mid-priced and low-priced ones and the results are as follows:
Among the 29 samples collected, the most expensive one costs 30.4HKD/100ml, which is around 12 times of the cheapest one that costs 2.7HKD/100ml. The average price of the samples is 20.3HKD/100mL.
Despite having a higher percentage of Green Fish than mid-priced and low-priced samples, high-priced products also have a higher percentage of Red Fish, hence their safety performance was not particularly outstanding.
Since ice-cream is popular in all seasons and China accounts for one-third of global consumption, it is important for consumers to choose products that are safe for their health. In this regard, the Green Fish Recommendation List has a huge responsibility to safeguard people's well-being!
Test-it™ conducted test on brands mainly from Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, the USA and New Zealand.
Swiss brands are found to have better safety performance than brands from other regions when comparing products from different places.
The main ingredients of ice cream include milk, water, sugar and eggs. Its texture is attributable to food additives.
【Review】In August 2017, a customer in Australia bought an ice-cream sandwich manufactured at a local supermarket and left it on the lawn for the birds and insects. As it turned out, not only did the ice-cream sandwich stay unmelted after five days under the sun, no animals or insects went near and ate it. Experts are of the view that gelling agents must have been added to the ice-cream product. In this regard, the manufacturer admitted to the media that they put emulsifiers to the treat to create a honeycomb-like structure, which helped to slow down melting.
In the 29 samples under the test, the most common additives are guaran (found in 22 samples), locust bean gum and carrageenan (both found in 15 samples), which are popular food stabilizers and thickeners. When used appropriately in accordance with the national requirements of different countries, these ingredients will not cause direct health risks.
However, current test regime assesses only the risks of the most common or potential hazardous and toxic substances, but not other chemicals that may arise or the combined toxicity effects.
【Gelling agents】Carrageenans are extracted from various seaweeds and widely applied as a “natural” food additive. The World Health Organization, the European Food Safety Authority and the PRC government have imposed limits on its use in baby foods. The European Food Safety Authority even banned the use of carrageenan in food for infants under 4 months.
Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide produced from the fermentation process by bacteria and is added as a food thickener or stabilizer. According to the 2017 re-evaluation report of the ESFA, xanthan gum may contain heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. In view of such, it is planned to revise the limit of heavy metals in xanthan gum so that it will not become the major source of food poisoning.
In theory, food additives do not pose health threats when their use is in compliance with the standard, but it doesn't mean that they are safe. If mixed with other additives or ingredients, they may produce toxic compounds and compromise food safety.
Green Fish Kitchen
Conventional chemical test 1.0 and the basic regulations only reflects the basic requirement for a product’s market entry. The mission of Test-it™ is to further improve product safety with world leading technology Testing 2.0. Though horizontal analysis in similar products, Test-it™ provides consumers with information and data for better consumer choices. Products are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to test results.
Test-it™ has developed a high standard as a third party consumer goods evaluation platform. Developed by an experienced research and development team and an advisory board of toxicology experts from 12 countries, Test-it™ references from the global standard of China, EU, the U.S., Japan, WHO and OECD. With the application of fish embryo toxicity (FET) test technology (Testing 2.0), The standard of Test-it™ could be higher than the existing regulations.
Market research and product
Test-it™ selected 29 best selling ice cream brands by analysing sales and attention span from the Test-it™ fans group. The research is conducted in both e-commerce platform and physical store.
Purchasing Method and Channel
All tested samples were purchased by Test-it as a common customer. Samples were purchased from the brands’ official beauty counters and their globally recognised sales channels ( official flagship stores ) on major E-commerce platforms ( JD, Tmall, Koala, Amazon) . All sample were purchased anonymously.In order to maintain neutrality and objectiveness, Test-it reports will not accept products submitted by manufactures.
1、 Transgenic medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants
2、Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants
Vitargent adopts an exclusive ingredients screening system comparing restricted and high risk ingredients regulated by the CODEX Alimentarius of the WHO&FAO, USFDA, EU, Food and Drug Administration of Japan and China to further enhance product safety.
Ingredient Screening: Products must not contain any chemicals that are associated with health complications, eco-toxicity, or contamination by scientific safety evaluations, or are banned by the following governmental agencies and authoritative bodies.
US: USFDA’s ‘Summary of colour additives for use in the United States in foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices’, ‘Prohibited & Restricted Ingredients’, and 'Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS)'.
EU: European Commission Nos. 1333/2008, 1223/2009, 1129/2011, and 1130/2011, and Candidate List of substances of very high concern for Authorisation (SVHC) by European Chemicals Agency (2017).
China: China FDA’s ‘Safety and Technical Standard for Cosmetics’ (2015), and 'National food safety standards: food additive standard (GB2760-2014).
Japan: Japan’s ‘Standards for Cosmetics’ (2000), and 'Standard for use of food additives (2017)
WHO&FAO: CODEX Alimentarius
Results Analyzing Method
|Category||Medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants||Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants||Ingredients check|
|Pass WHO guideline on Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI)||No LC50 (50% fish death) detected at highest concentration||No banned or high concernedingredients|
||Pass WHO guideline on Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI)||LC50 detected within highest centration to Vitargent category-based reference line||No banned but contain high concerned ingredients|
||Fail (reading exceed ADI or over 50% fish death at Vitargent category-based reference line )||LC50 detected below Vitargent category-based reference line||Contain banned ingredients|
|Hong Kong Technological Achievement Award(2014)||Davos Global Innovation Pioneer (2015)||Geneva International Inventions 43rd Grand Prix Winner (2015)||World Intellectual Property Organization Gold Medal (2016)||APEC & GIC Future Maker (2016)||Unreasonable Impact (2017)|