Favourite sparkling waters provide food for thought

I have a drinking problem. Surprisingly, even with the pandemic, it’s not an issue with alcohol. This week I found out that my go-to drink may have caused my current teeth sensitivity, and my favourite glass to drink it out of was recalled over a decade ago. With any luck, my cautionary tale will give you some valuable information.

This month, it was discussed in the media that my favourite sparkling water can cause weakness in tooth enamel. This isn’t new information, but it only just came to my attention when the test results of pH levels of sparkling waters were released on Marketplace. They tested Bubly, LaCroix, and Perrier to find out which are the most acidic.

Dentists say that pH levels below five can weaken teeth enamel. Soda pop and sports drinks range in pH from 2.5 to 3.4. For juices, pomegranates, grapefruits, lemons, blueberries and pineapples, have the most acidic pHs (around 3), followed by apples, peaches, oranges, and tomatoes (from 3.3 to above 4). This is why you aren’t supposed to give children a lot of juice or pop to drink, and why you definitely aren’t supposed to give them juice in a bottle at night. It isn’t the sugar that is the issue, it is the acidity that is the problem for teeth. (The sugar content is a whole other conversation.)

I’ve always tried to follow the idea of not drinking my calories, so that I can enjoy more food, so I typically only drink tap water, which has a pH of 7. When the flavoured sparkling water trend started a couple years back, I jumped aboard, excited to have something without sugar or chemical sweeteners to drink that wasn’t flat water.

I thought that these sugar-free bubbly water drinks were health-neutral to me; a godsend even. At the height of my addiction to Perrier and Bubly, I did start getting heartburn, but it went away once I reduced the amount I was consuming. I never thought that it was also affecting my teeth. Not surprisingly, I recently had to switch to a sensitive-teeth toothpaste.

Now for the test results: Bubly’s grapefruit flavour was the most acidic, at 3.86. The least acidic was Perrier’s non-flavoured sparkling water at 5.47. Regardless of the flavour, Perrier was all around 5, Lacroix was around 4.8, and Bubly ranged from 3.86 to 4.06.

If you are drinking anything (juice, pop, sports drinks, carbonated water) with a pH of less than 5, it is recommended that you drink it quickly with a meal, and not sip it during the day, to give your saliva time to rebalance its pH. Rinsing with water afterwards also helps.

At the time of reading this information, I had a Grapefruit Bubly in my favourite Shrek glass from McDonald’s. The same week, my son forwarded me a TikTok video that mentioned that the Shrek glasses were recalled.

After several web searches, I confirmed that, indeed, McDonald’s had voluntarily recalled the glasses in 2010 due to cadmium in the glazes on the outside of the glasses, making my dear Shrek a vibrantly neon green.

If you, like me, missed the recall information in stores or in the media, it’s time to stop using those glasses “out of an abundance of caution,” as the McDonald’s representative I spoke to said.

McDonald’s also agreed to provide me coupons to offset the purchase price of the glasses. I appreciate a company that stands by its products, even 11 years later.

Wondering if anything you have in the house has been recalled? You can use Health Canada’s website https://recalls-rappels.canada.ca/en to check out recalls. One caveat, however. After your preliminary search, if it shows no results, repeat the search but click the “include archive” button, so that you don’t only see this past year’s recalls.

Based on all this new information, perhaps I’ll meet you at the water cooler with a non-glazed glass?

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