In September, a minor tiff began when television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz commissioned a study that found high levels of arsenic in fruit juice. The Food and Drug Administration objected, but a new study by Consumer Reports had similar findings.
FDA considers revising arsenic limits
There has been a growing chorus of calls for the Food and Drug Administration to revise the allowable content of arsenic in fruit juices for years. Arsenic is a deadly toxin. However, it is also a naturally occurring substance.
There is also a difference, according to USA Today, between naturally occurring or organic arsenic and inorganic arsenic, the kind used in pesticides. That is why the FDA is loathe to crack down too harshly on arsenic content of foods like fruit juices, because it is nearly impossible to eliminate all traces of it. Organic arsenic, at the microscopic concentration found in foods, harmlessly washes out of the system. However, after a good deal of negative publicity, the FDA is reportedly looking at revising its guidelines.
Dr. Oz started media fracas
In September, Dr. Oz aired a segment on his television program that highlighted the arsenic content in some popular brands of fruit juice. Dr. Oz, according to the Boston Globe, hired ESML Analytical Inc. to test various juices for arsenic content. They found that of the 36 brands of apple juice they tested, 10 exceeded 10 parts per billion of arsenic, which Dr. Oz contends the limit should be set to. One reached 36 parts per billion.
Consumer Reports, according to MSNBC, recently released a similar analysis of 88 brands of apple and grape juice. The findings backed up Dr. Oz’s claims that levels of arsenic in juices are high. Of the juices tested by Consumer Reports, 10 percent of all samples including four grape juice and five apple juice brands exceeded 10 parts per billion of arsenic, the FDA’s limit for drinking water. Consumer Reports also found most of the arsenic contained in the juices was inorganic.
Why FDA allows more in juice
The FDA’s limit is 23 parts per billion for juice, as the FDA believes that people will consumer more water than juice in a day. Therefore, the agency allows more arsenic in juice because the greater consumption of water will “balance out” the greater arsenic content.
Welch’s Pourable Concentrate 100 percent Apple Juice had the lowest level of arsenic tested by Consumer Reports. America’s Choice Apple, Red Jacket Orchards 100 percent and Tropicana 100 percent Apple juices all had low levels of arsenic as well.
According to the Washington Post, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 6 months of age shouldn’t consume fruit juice because of the sugar content.
USA Today: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/fitness-food/safety/story/2011-11-30/FDA-examines-level-of-arsenic-in-apple-juice/51511750/1
Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/Boston/dailydose/2011/09/does-apple-juice-have-unsafe-levels-arsenic/QoHo6FYDd8bm0S5JAjvLEN/index.html
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/arsenic-fears-aside-apple-juice-can-pose-a-health-threat-_-from-calories-nutritionists-say/2011/12/01/gIQALuyYHO_story.html
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