The AFK Community are fed up with Zooper Dooper icy poles being handed out to their kids at school!
This icy pole review was prompted by a post that I shared on Facebook some time ago expressing my sadness at seeing HUGE displays of Zooper Doopers being marketed to our children, at the expense of our kids health and our planet.
So much plastic to start with ….
But then the ingredients:
Food acid (citric acid)
Colours (122, 150d, 110 102, 123, 133)
Preservatives (202, 211, 223)
Effectively, this product is water that has been flavoured with chemicals, then coloured with petroleum or synthetic derived colours and then preserved with petroleum derived preservatives?!
Why do we want to feed our children this?
I asked the AFK community to consider what are they actually buying?!
Do you think it is ok that our kids are being sold water that has been coloured and preserved using petroleum based ingredients? Do you think it is ok for these to be handed out at our schools?
What’s the big deal I hear so many people ask?
Do you know what these ingredients do to our kids?
These petroleum derived ingredients can cause:
– learning difficulties
– insomnia and so many more ailments and symptoms.
This post reached nearly 45,000 people. It struck a chord.
People posted their stories about how these products were given out to their children:
– in emergency departments when they had gastro
– in hospitals when they wake up from anaesthetic
– at Christmas sport breakups
– as rewards on hot days at schools
– at special events at school
– as a treat to celebrate end of term
We saw frustrations from parents and teachers alike:
– Seeing the impacts that Zooper Doopers have on kids when they are back in the classroom, hyped up and unable to concentrate. Making it harder for the teachers to teach.
– Disbelief from parents – how do people not realise that the ingredients of these products are harmful to our kids?
– Bewilderment from the community – how are these ALLOWED to be sold in canteens across Australia the very place we expect children to sit, concentrate and learn??!
Parents are trying to do the right thing by their kids but are being thwarted by schools, sporting clubs and hospitals! The very organisations that we would expect to have our children’s best interests at heart!
The question I kept hearing over and over again – are there any better alternatives? What is the best icy pole to buy off the shelf? Are any ice blocks they sell ok? Can you please share more information on this so that I can share this information with my kids, with their grandparents, with their school?
Please can you review icy poles so we can be equipped to make better choices!
The AFK community voted for their most preferred icy poles to be reviewed. I have thrown in a few extra brands that I knew had great ingredients. There were also some late inclusion as some companies that follow our work in this area wanted to have their products included too. You know I love to help the smaller artisan producers!
Let’s get to the additive free review on icy poles
I know I say this every time….but it is just insane when I review a simple product and witness the crazy amount of ingredients that are used. In this review, I looked at over 40 different icy poles and this included over 120 different ingredients.
Please note: this is NOT an exhaustive list of all icy poles on the supermarket shelves. The brands that were most popular as voted by the AFK Community have been included.
What ingredients should you find in an icy pole?
Ideally just fresh juice. It is that simple…..it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. You need to ask yourselves the question why, when you see all the other ingredients that are used, why are they used? Are they there for your benefit? Or are they there for the manufacturers benefit?
What ingredients did I come across in the icy pole review?
Juice is by far the biggest ingredient when it comes to icy poles…and needs a more detailed explanation:
Juice is not as simple as it sounds. There are so many different variants of juice:
Cold pressed juice
What is the difference between them all?
Organic juice: Organic fruit crops don’t use any synthetic pesticides. I won’t get into the debate regarding organic or not in this post (we could be here a long time), however, suffice to say that “The average child receives approximately four times more exposure than an adult, to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food.”  You can find other reasons why you may choose organic here.
Cold pressed juice: is usually served fresh and is supposed to retain more of the fruit or veggies nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and minerals as heat isn’t used during the extraction process. Instead a high pressure pasteurisation process is used which means that the juice is covered in cold water and pressed at a high pressure that it kills microorganisms that could spoil the juice. This increases the shelf life.
Fresh juice: freshly squeezed juice is made by only squeezing the liquid portion of the fruit. Wonderful if you are squeezing fresh at home. Commercially, fresh juice is usually pasteurised with heat. Whilst this kills pathogens, it also eliminates some nutrients too.
Reconstituted juice: is juice that has been made from fruit juice concentrate (more on this next). Juice that has been reconstituted doesn’t offer the same nutritional qualities as freshly squeezed juice. Through the heating and reconstitution process, the enzymes present are destroyed. You will often see the additive Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) on the ingredient label. This is a synthetic form of Vitamin C and is added back in by the manufacturers later. It is a less expensive juice as it has less vitamins, minerals and other benefits of natural fruits.
Fruit juice concentrates: The juice is squeezed from the fruit and then as much water as possible is removed from the juice to create a concentrate. This is done through filtration, extraction and evaporation processes. “The evaporation process requires heating the juice to high temperatures and the extraction process often involves adding chemicals to get a more condensed product. Even 100% fruit juice from concentrates can contain additives to enhance the colour and flavour.” . Why do this? This is often done to reduce shipping weight and preserve its shelf life.
Other ingredients other than juice
Why is water included in an icy pole? The only reason I can see to add water to a product is to water it down. Including water means that the other ingredients go further that what they would otherwise. In this way, the cost of their ingredients is cheaper which increases the manufacturers profit margin.
Herbs and spices
Organic crystal cane sugar
Organic rice malt syrup
Raw organic sugar
We need to consider why are all these sweeteners being used….is the fruit a little tart and needs a little sweetener for the little ones, or are these sweeteners being added as the icy pole doesn’t contain any fruit at all?
Citric acid (330) and food acid (300) feature highly in icy poles. This is an ingredient that you have heard me talk about many times before. I recommend you avoid citric acid if you are sensitive to MSG. Citric acid isn’t what you think it is, it is usually derived from a mould and definitely not something we want our little kids consuming.
Colours and extracts
A rainbow of colours (100, 102, 110, 120, 122, 123, 133, 140, 141, 150d, 160a, 160b, 162 and 163), and extracts have been used in these icy poles. I know that they are seen to be fun and vibrant for kids. The reality though (as you will see from those that have been ranked the best) it is still possible to have vibrant colours when real fruit juice is used. If you are looking to understand why to avoid colours, check out this previous blog which explains more.
Natural flavour (cola)
Natural flavour (raspberry)
Natural flavour (lemonade)
Natural flavour (tropical)
Natural flavour (lemon-lime)
Natural flavour (orange)
Natural flavour (lime)
Natural flavour (coconut)
Natural flavour (lemon)
These types of ingredients are what single manufacturers out from the rest of the pack. There really is no need for any of these ingredients in icy poles. There should be enough flavour in our fresh fruits. If flavours are used….perhaps they aren’t using the best quality fruit juices or no fruit juices at all? Oh….in case you are thinking “they are natural flavours” they must be better. They aren’t. Check my previous blogs on flavours here and here to learn more.
Thickeners and gums
Locust bean gum (410)
Guar gum (412)
Xanthan gum (415)
Tara gum (417)
Fruit pectin (440)
Sodium carboxymethylcellulose (466)
I urge you to think why are these gums in these products? You will see the products that have been ranked Best have no need for gums. Are these gums there for your benefit or the manufacturers?
Potassium sorbate (202)
Sodium Benzoate (211)
Sodium Metabisulphite (223)
It is very well understood that preservatives are linked with asthma. Perhaps less so, that preservatives are also linked with behavioural problems, learning difficulties, headaches and migraines, and skin issues (eczema, itching, hives etc).
Let’s get to the rankings
I know that you are eager to see the results! The following rankings are based on my knowledge and experience with these ingredients and discussions with other manufacturers after reviewing thousands upon thousands of products on supermarket shelves.
I will say that some of the manufacturers have been very clear, they aren’t trying to sell you juice icy poles, they have clearly labelled them “ICE WATER STICKS”, “WATER ICE” etc. This may not be immediately apparent to all.
You will see that I have ranked the icy poles into 4 categories:
These icy poles contain some or all of the following ingredients: flavourings, gums, thickeners, acidity regulators, food colours, extracts and preservatives.
These icy poles contain some or all of the following ingredients:
gums, thickeners, extracts and acidity regulators.
These icy poles contain only thickeners / gums
These icy poles are clean and completely free of additives.
NSW, SA, VIC, QLD:
NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, NT:
I always get asked for the links / stockists on my recommendations, you can find these amazing brands here:
How do your icy poles rank?
I would love to hear your thoughts….what do you think about the above? Will you be voting with your dollar and buying a different icy pole going forward? Will you be informing your school P&C that you would like to see changes? I have prepared a letter for you to send to your P&C to help you in your endeavour to have better options at school. If you would like a copy just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to learn more?
Here at Additive Free Kids, I want to help empower each consumer to vote with their dollar every day. To help you, I have created the AFK PANTRY RESETcoaching course. You can find out more here and join the waitlist.
Frankie Bell is the Managing Director of Additive Free Kids, a food coach, mentor and is one of Australia’s leading activists against additives in foods.
Frankie is a mum to 5 boys and has personal experience working through the damaging effects of additives to resolve the multiple health issues and behavioural problems in her own children. It became Frankie’s purpose to help other families achieve the same improvements for their families.
These changes can be overwhelming, especially for time poor parents, Frankie has done all the hard work for families to ensure they have access to additive free food, anytime, anywhere. Additive Free Kids specialises in assisting families to live healthy lives free from additives. See how you can work together with Frankie here