Posted by Claudia Grazioso on December 23, 2011
The story goes something like this: Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Oprah-approved physician and host of the “Dr. Oz Show,” revealed that a study he had commissioned on apple juice had some troubling results: Some major brands of apple juice were found to have arsenic in them. There is no federal limit for arsenic in juices (call me crazy, but it seems there should be no arsenic in the drinks that children consume regularly); still, Oz’s study found that several of the juices had more than the ten parts per billion allowed in drinking water.
The Food and Drug Administration was quick to jump in. Its view was something like this: No, no, no. Nothing to be alarmed about. Sure, some apple juices have arsenic, but it’s organic arsenic. It’s harmless.
Then Consumer Reports decided to run its own study. As it turns out, in that study, 10 percent of the juices tested had arsenic levels that exceeded 10ppb. And it’s the inorganic kind of arsenic. The kind known to cause cancer. Additionally, the CR study revealed something else that is just as troubling: Guess what else is in some brands of apple juice? Lead. And, as with the levels of arsenic, the levels of lead found in the apple juice exceed the levels allowed for drinking water. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that as a result of these tests, the FDA is beginning to pay attention and some lawmakers have begun to call for action on this issue.
How did inorganic, cancer-causing arsenic get into a mainstay of most children’s diets? No one knows for sure, but a lot of the apple concentrate used to make apple juice are imported from countries like China, where they may use pesticides that contain certain poisons like arsenic as well as other carcinogens. And since there are currently no set limits on arsenic or lead in juices, it took independently-funded studies to discover these troubling truths.
So, lead and arsenic in water, lead and arsenic in juices — what’s a parent to do? No, don’t give up and hand them a soda (although I understand… given the choice between high fructose corn syrup and lead, I think I know which way I would lean!). Consider buying organic juices made from locally-grown fruits. And after the holidays, when you have a moment to yourself, drop your Congressman or woman a note and urge him or her to set federal limits for those harmful substances in juices.