Juicers serve up some pulp fiction

Makers' claims of extra nutritional benefits and slimming effects quashed by Consumer Council

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 4:37am

Health claims by manufacturers about juicing machines may be misleading as there is no evidence they provide any benefits over simply eating the fruits and vegetables, the Consumer Council has warned.

The council looked at 12 blenders and juicers and found that five featured misleading health claims, with buyers being told the juicers would make them slimmer or aid absorption of nutrients.

Professor Michael Hui King-man, chairman of the council's publicity and community relations committee, said the process may mean the pulped nutrients are digested more quickly, but added: "Faster absorption does not mean more nutrients are absorbed."

Among the juicers tested was the American brand Vitamix, one of the most expensive machines on the market at HK$6,400.

Both Vitamix and a HK$3,880 juicer made by Hong Kong brand German Pool claimed that by grinding fruits and vegetables, their machines released the nutrients, making them easier for the body to absorb.

Hui cited nutritionists' opinions that fast absorption of sugars may in fact lead to a rapid rise in blood sugar which poses a threat to diabetes patients.

Other juicers that came under fire from Hong Kong's Consumer Council were machines made by Malaysian brand Ladyship Organic Essence Extractor at HK$3,688; the South Korean Hurom brand at HK$3,988; and the Dutch brand Philips at HK$998.

As for slimming claims, nutritionists pointed out that eating one whole orange gives you a fuller feeling - thanks to the fibre - and less calories than by drinking a glass of orange juice obtained by squeezing three oranges.

Some juicers can also blend the seeds and peel from fruit and vegetables. However, seeds from apples, peaches, plums and pears and other fruits contain traces of cyanogenic glycoside which releases cyanide, a potent poison.

Peels may also harbour pesticides, said Hui.

German Pool told the council that its health claims come from a book written by a naturopathic medical doctor.

And Vitamix said it had carried out tests showing that its blender can break plant-cell walls to release nutrients which chewing cannot.

Hui stressed that experts consulted by the council were not aware of any such evidence.

The council published its findings in its latest issue of Choice Magazine, which also contained a warning on bank safe deposit boxes.

Some 16 out of 18 banks checked do not assume responsibility for the contents unless it involves staff negligence - even if the bank was robbed.

And the cost of replacing keys can be as high as HK$1,500, much higher than locksmith charges, said Hui.