Back in September Dr. Mehmet Oz, from the very popular Dr. Oz show on TV, aired a show reporting that he had done testing on certain juices and found many of them to be dangerously high in arsenic. The FDA jumped, calling the segment irresponsible and misleading because it did not specify the difference between inorganic arsenic (the harmful kind) and organic arsenic (the harmless kind) and combined the both kinds of arsenic in the study, which in their belief, led to unreliable levels.
Consumer Reports, however, did its own study and their findings back Dr. Oz’s claims up. Out of the 88 samples of apple and grape juice they tested, 10% had levels of arsenic over the 10 parts per billion that the FDA deems to be a safe amount, and 25% of the samples tested showed lead levels above the 5 parts per billion allowed for bottled drinking water. Consumer Report’s tests the arsenic that was found in these juices are inorganic…the dangerous kind. Brands with the questionably dangerous arsenic levels include Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) brand, (Great Value) Walgreens (NYSE:WAG), Welch’s, Apple and Eve (Cranberries Limited, Inc.), and Motts (Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc – NYSE:DPS).
It’s unsettling to know that the FDA has no standard in place when it comes to levels of arsenic and lead in juices. As of right now, if a juice sample has 23 ppb or above of arsenic, they will retest the sample, but those levels are already higher than what is safe.
The FDA has been asked by advocate group Consumers Union, to adopt the standard of 3 ppb of arsenic and 5 ppb of lead in juices. Based on the Consumer Reports investigation, these levels are realistic and attainable. Will the FDA agree? Right now, they seem to feel that levels below 23 ppb are below their level of concern.
Senior managing health editor of Fox News says that ANY level of arsenic in the juices is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. “I don’t want to sound like an alarmist,” he said in September when Oz’s report first surfaced, “but just look at the growing levels of learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and other diseases that seem so prevalent today as compared to decades ago.”
Juices are not the only thing that contains arsenic. If the levels in these juices and other products are added together, just what are we putting into our bodies? Of course, as Dr. Oz stated, the absolute healthiest level of arsenic in juice or to have in your food or drink is zero, but this is unattainable and unrealistic.
Consumers Union tells parents that are extremely concerned about the arsenic poisoned juice, to change brands and where they are bought frequently, seeing as different brands has different levels. It’s not the small amounts of juice that are worrisome; it’s what exposure will do over the long term if large amounts of juice are taken in.
Juice is high in sugar, so it isn’t recommended for children to have a lot of it anyway. Under 6 months, not at all, and under six years old, no more than 6 ounces a day. Of course another route is to just give them fresh, organic fruit and avoid the juice altogether, but parents will each have their way of dealing with this information. Hopefully the FDA will continue to look into changing the standards and lower the levels of acceptable chemicals in arsenic juice and our other food and drink products.