Scientists found five types of fungus and mats of mold in Capri Sun beverages after consumers made complaints. While the findings have an “ick” factor, it’s not harmful to most people.
Researcher Kathleen Dannelly, associate professor microbiology at Indiana State University. Fungi are all around us — in the soil, air, and even on our skin and inside our digestive tract — but they are generally kept in check by our immune systems.
“Probably, those of us with healthy immune systems, we could even eat that, and that wouldn’t be a problem,” Dannelly said, referring to the fungal mats in Capri Sun.
However, for people with compromised immune systems, such as those with AIDS, leukemia or cystic fibrosis, fungus exposure may be a health concern, Dannelly said.
For instance, the fungus Aspergillus is found in air, and most people breathe it in without problems.
Kraft, which manufactures Capri Sun, acknowledges that mold can grow in the drink, but says such reports are not common.
Dannelly said if this experiment was done on any juice after it was opened and left in the refrigerator, she would expect both fungus and bacteria to grow.
In a second experiment, the researchers, including Leah Horn, an undergraduate biology major, punctured Capri Sun packages with a sterile needle to mimic damage to the product. When left in a sterile environment for three weeks, fungal mats grew in the juice.
A problem with Capri Sun is that the packages are not see-through, so unlike mold on bread or cheese, consumers can’t tell when Capri Sun goes bad.
Kraft said it tried creating clear packages for Capri Sun, but stopped making the packages after it created manufacturing problems.
The company said it will not add preservatives to the product because their customers don’t want this. Preservatives give food a longer shelf life, but some, such as the preservative nitrite, have been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers.
The fungus study has not yet been published in a peer reviewed journal, but the researchers plan to submit the Capri Sun work for publication.