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Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 11/30/2011

Consumer Reports finds alarming levels of arsenic in apple and grape juices

The arsenic-in-juice war continues. Today, Consumer Reports released an alarming study that found high levels of arsenic in samples of apple juice.
(bigstockphoto)

After testing 88 locally-purchased apple and grape juices, testers found 10 percent had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards, and 25 percent had lead levels higher than the Food and Drug Administration’s bottled-water limit. 

An additional analysis found that juice drinkers had about 20 percent higher levels of arsenic in their urine.

Given that arsenic can be organic and harmless, or inorganic and dangerous, perhaps the most troubling finding is that most of the arsenic found in the juice was inorganic.

The group is suggesting that parents restrict juice consumption to children up to 6 years old to no more than six ounces per day. For older children, it recommends no more than eight to 12 ounces a day. 

It is also calling on the government to create and enforce higher standards for juice.

The complete report will also be published in the magazine’s January issue.

This comes several weeks after the popular television medical expert Dr. Mehmet Oz and the FDA had a very public spat over the same issue.

Back then, Oz released finding of his own that showed high levels of arsenic in juice marketed for children. He also denounced the federal government’s oversight on his television show.

The FDA responded by questioning the methodology of the study Oz had commissioned. Officials pointed out that the acceptable limits for arsenic in apple juice is higher than in bottled water because organic arsenic can occur naturally in apple juice and thus raises the overall level. A previous blog post details the claims and counter-claims.

The FDA today released a statement in response to the Consumer Reports study that says it welcomes the new study, but reiterates that it deems apple juice safe:

“We continue to find the vast majority of apple juice tested to contain low levels of arsenic, including the most recent samples from China. For this reason, FDA is confident in the overall safety of apple juice consumed in this country. By the same token, a small percentage of samples contain elevated levels of arsenic. In response, FDA has expanded our surveillance activities and is collecting additional data to help determine if a guidance level can be established that will reduce consumer’s exposure to arsenic in apple juice. FDA will continue to monitor the latest science and work with EPA and USDA to protect public health.”

The new report does, again, raise the broader issue of trust. Is the current oversight of foods we give our children adequate?

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By  |  12:04 PM ET, 11/30/2011

Tags:  arsenic and juice, federal oversight, food safety

 
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