Researchers at the University of Indiana have discovered five different fungi in Capri Sun juice pouches. Associate professor of microbiology, Kathleen Dannelly, who led the research team, said she became interested in studying the juice products made by Kraft Foods Inc. after a man in Indiana discovered a large “fungal mat” inside his daughter’s juice pouch.
Dannelly asked senior biology major Leah Horn from St. Louis to conduct the research. Horn spent a year testing Capri Sun and found five different fungi growing in the juice pouches: three in the tropical punch flavor, and one each in the Roaring Waters and Fruit Punch flavors. They are still trying to pin down the exact species of each of the fungi.
“As far as I can tell, the fact that they don’t put preservatives in this is really allowing lots of fungi to survive the drink process,” Dannelly said. She and Horn suspect that fungal mats grow in packages that are defective in some way. For the next stage of the research project, they will intentionally puncture the juice pouches and test for fungal growth.
Kraft is aware of the problem. The company says the problem is not widespread and that the mold does not pose a health risk to consumers. The company has an FAQ on its Carpri Sun website. The response to the question “How does Kraft Foods know the mold is not harmful?” is: “While unpleasant, it is more of a quality rather than a safety issue. However, we take consumer concerns very seriously. When we had the opportunity to look at a sample in the past, we have sent it to a leading, accredited lab for testing. They independently confirmed it was mold. Because this product contains no preservatives, the beverage can spoil and mold can grow. That’s why discarding leaking or damaged packages is the right step. In fact, we include a message on the carton encouraging people to do this.”