Experts expressed doubts about the nutritional content of China's milk beverages yesterday, following media reports about problems with Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co's Nutri-Express Drink.
The reports claimed that the drink would turn into a kind of white jelly if left out in a bowl overnight. But Wahaha announced late Monday that the additives in its Nutri-Express Drink, which combines milk and fruit juice, all meet national standards.
"Nutri-Express has a relatively high protein content, so it's a common protein gel phenomenon for it to become jelly after dehydration," the company said in a statement.
However, experts said that companies overstate the nutritional benefits of their milk beverages. Unlike fresh milk, which has at least 2.9 percent protein, most milk beverages only contain 0.5 to 1.3 percent protein, Wang Dingmian, president of the Guangzhou Dairy Association, told the Global Times yesterday.
Wahaha Nutri-Express Drink is not as nutritional as it claims, so it's misleading to consumers, Wang noted.
Partly because of their 30 to 40 percent sugar content, milk beverages are popular with children, who account for around half of the market for the products. But the high sugar content is bad for their health, Wang warned.
"I don't drink Nutri-Express Drink, as it's not nutritional at all," Pu Xiaopeng, a dairy analyst with Beijing-based research center Distribution Productivity Promotion Center of China Commerce, told the Global Times yesterday.
Pu also said the product contains many additives, such as thickeners.
Nutri-Express has 11 additives and some other milk beverages have up to 20, said Wang. "Even if all the additives accord with the national standard, it's hard to assess whether they could be harmful to people's health when mixed together," he noted.
"There is no regulation in the industry limiting the number of additives that can be used, which is an institutional weakness," he noted.