FDA, Dr. Oz Clash Over Arsenic Levels in Apple Juice

apple juiceIn response to a segment that aired this week on The Dr. Oz Show, the health-themed program hosted by integrative physician Dr. Mehmet Oz, The Food and Drug Administration has released a statement defending its policy of allowing trace amounts of arsenic into apple juice.

Dr. Oz conducted laboratory studies on several brands of apple juice, including one made by Gerber.  The FDA allows an arsenic level of 23 parts per billion in apple juice products.  One of the Gerber brand juices tested at 36 parts per billion in Dr. Oz’s study.

But Dr. Oz based his measurements on “total arsenic,” rather than specifying organic and inorganic arsenic compounds.  Scientists liken the two types of arsenic to cholesterol, which has “good” and “bad” types that should be measured separately.

In a letter to the Dr. Oz Show’s producers, FDA officials said, “It would be irresponsible and misleading for The Dr. Oz Show to suggest that apple juice contains unsafe amounts of arsenic based solely on tests for total arsenic.”

But Dr. Oz argues that the allowable level should be lowered to 10 parts per billion–the same level as is allowed in drinking water.

“As a doctor and a parent, it’s concerning to me that there could be toxins such as arsenic in juice we are giving to our kids,” Dr. Oz said in a press statement.

A registered dietitian and professor of nutrition told The Boston Globe that the debate only highlights a bigger issue–that kids should limit the amount of fruit juice in their diets.

“Children shouldn’t be drinking that much apple juice to begin with, certainly not to the extent that it replaces milk in their diet,” Joan Salge Blake told the Globe, adding that a whole piece of fruit — with all its fiber and nutrient-filled skin and pulp — is far better for us than the high-caloric juice that’s made from it.

(image via: http://www.infobarrel.com)

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  1. by Kristi Bennett

    On September 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    I think Dr. Oz is one of “those” people who want to scare the crap out of Americans. If we were to run lab tests on everything we eat, there would be nothing left that is “safe” to eat. I am guessing that with the way that Dr. Oz presents the information, there wasn’t a large enough “bad” amount to make his story plausible, therefore, he twisted the test results to make him look good and the FDA bad. I realize that the FDA isn’t without their faults, but there are too many people in America today who feel the need to force their beliefs on the general public and I think Dr. Oz is one of them.

  2. by Jaime

    On September 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    I applaud Dr, Oz and Im grateful that he brought this to my attention. I think the bigger picture is that in the little sections on our food label where it says “ingredients” it should list ALL the ingredients so I as the consumer have the option to buy it or not…I think that we (America)should be more strict with our food I think the FDA lets way to many things slip and does not regulate certain things properly…We should have ALL the facts as parents, citizens and as consumers.

  3. by Michele

    On September 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Jamie, Bless Your Heart! I bet you’re one of those conspiracy theorists too. Dr. Oz has some of the TOP information in the country, I’m sorry you feel that he is out to brainwash you, or to have you abducted by aliens. If you don’t care to hear pertinent information, then by all means, don’t watch his show, or read his books. Simple as that. I find it AMAZINGLY ALARMING that the arsenic levels allowed are DOUBLE that of safe drinking water. If this doesn’t ALARM you, you have something wrong with you.

  4. by Stephanie

    On September 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I understand both sides of the issue but I agree with Jaime. I believe they need to list the levels of malicious content on the bottle or at least openly on their website. They should have warning labels for arsenic just as they do for lead. I want to be able to make an informed decision on what I feed my child. If I make the decision that 36ppb is acceptable then so be it but I as a parent want the choice. I will be juicing my own fruits for a while until all of this gets cleared up. I’ve been looking into the simply brand of juices as well. Perhaps those are safer since they are less processed.

  5. by Britt

    On September 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Michelle, I believe Jamie agrees with you. Funny how you can judge someone that quickly….

  6. by Angela

    On September 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    So they are sticking up for good arsenic now. I understand that there is good cholesterol and bad, but that doesn’t mean we stop watching it. We still have to monitor our cholesterol. Just because there is “good” arsenic, doesn’t mean that the FDA, who is supposed to be protecting America from consuming bad foods, should ignore it. Also, are the levels always the same? Do they go up and down. What if the bad arsenic was at a higher amount than the good arsenic making the total arsenic irrelevant. I rather have someone yell fire in a movie theater than see the flames and get burned. I wonder how many other things have arsenic in them. Dr. Oz and Erin Brockovich should talk. Here’s an arsenic margarita mixed with some hexavalent chromium on the rocks! FDA approved. It’s the good kind.

  7. by Alice

    On September 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Thank-you, Britt, I was going to point out that Jamie agrees, and it is Kristi in fact that apparently doesn’t like the fact that Dr. Oz makes things public that companies and the gov’t like to sweep under the rug…besides, I want to know is the 10 parts per billion that they consider safe in drinking water based on adult or child drinking it? Children obviously have a smaller body mass than adults, so I was wondering what they based the “safety” factor on…

  8. by Angela

    On September 15, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Also, I think Michelle meant Kristi, not Jaime.

  9. by Lynn Burgess

    On September 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Parents is asking an opinion and thank you all for expressing yours. Regardless of what it is, you may freely express it without being attacked!

    Dad called to tell us about this to ensure we were aware. Yes, children should not drink that much apple juice and drink more milk. But hey, what about the child who gets more juice than norm? So let’s educate the public always.

    Dr Oz is a physician who is trying to keep America healthy. I believe that is his intent.

    I also worry about the numerous recalls on products from overseas. I stopped buying any items from China as they have failed!

    When our country gets serious about this fact, I will begin to trust them again. Our country is on a spin of budget woes to keep up with keeping us safe. Fix it

    Thank you Dr. Oz. Trust the gov? No.

  10. by brenna

    On September 16, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I think it’s great that Dr. Oz is sharing this important information. This is not new information, but because Dr. Oz is more mainstream people listen to him (like Oprah). I think that the powers to be are upset and scared like the Juice companies & the FDA. If parents stop buying their tainted apple juice they stand to loose billions if not millions of dollars. The FDA has dropped the ball & doesn’t have the money or resources to do their job. The FDA would rather close down or harass small independent Raw Foods co-ops & hassel small farmers that produce Raw milk that police the big corporations that only care about the bottom line & the mighty dollar and are endangering our health and the health of our children everyday. Sure in a perfect world it would be better to have an apple than juice. Kids do not “Need” milk to be healthy & they have completly differnt nutrients so I don’t know why you would substitute one for the other. I was disapointed that Dr. Oz opened the door, but didn’t give enought information. What I want to know is what juices are safe? Is Organic safe or does it have arsenic too? They mentioned China, does that mean that only the juice from China is a concern, it wasn’t clear? It doesen’t matter to me if it’s natually occuring or not I don’t want arsenic in my food or drinks period. Lots of thing are naturally occouring that are dangerous like “Asbestose”. I want reasurance from the Juice companies I’m sure we haven’t heard from them because they are busy meeting with their marketing people & lawyers to figure out their next move. I want to know what the FDA is going to do about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if in two weeks people forget & move on. I am very concerned. Those without small chilren forget how they eat some kids eat excessive amounts of one food. Even at five my son is very busy & doesn’t eat a lot & has juice & smoothies. we use apple juice in our smoothies all the time, now I will have to rethink that. Maybe Parents can do a more indepth article & give us the answers we so desperatly need.

  11. by Derek

    On September 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Too many people are missing the point here. What Dr. Oz does for everyone is very honorable. He presents us with his “Professional opinion” on all topics that impact our daily lives and tries to help us make good decisions regarding our families and ourselves. Just as the FDA does also. It’s not gospel. As a parent it is up to you to determine what you think is the appropriate decision you should make for your child not what the government, doctors, or manufacturers tell you. That is why you have choices. That is why you have web-sites, blogs, forums, publications like Parents and many other “Experts” that can keep you greatly informed. Children do not come with an instruction manual and its up to you to raise them the way you feel should be. I am the father of an 8 month old and I spend quite alot of time doing research on my own then my parents did with me. But their comes a point were people need to be responsible for themselves and stop pointing to others to make decisions for them

  12. by mom of 3 boys

    On September 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Kristi I believe you are right!! if we tested everything your kids ate nothing would be safe. BUT I believe this is the point alot are trying to make. all those chemicals added to your food are not safe. and therfore something needs to be done about it.

  13. by Elizabeth

    On September 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I think all ingredients that are in food should be put on the label. I never released that arsenic is in apple juice! I don’t care HOW little there is, it’s not going in MY child! Thank you Dr. Oz for bringing it to light.

  14. by Mallory

    On September 19, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    All I am going to say is if you have an issue with it MAKE YOUR OWN DARN JUICE!! I bet if you did an had it tested there would STILL be some amount of arsenic in it…not being morbid but the ultimate goal in life is death-making it to the finish line so-to-speak… I am not saying that it shouldn’t be lowered but if you were truly that concerned you would make your own juice from apples you grew yourself (or lemons or oranges)… Everyone blames things like this on the government take some responsibility for following blindly… Arsenic occurs naturally in two different forms.. ..http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/doc/arsenic.pdf … Making it impossible to completely rid any piece of food or beverage from it

  15. by TFos

    On September 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Keep in mind that the “arsenic” is probably mostly from the apple seeds themselves…which you can eat though you don’t usually these days. Other arsenic is probably from the water used to reconsitute the ones made from concentrate. ie: the arsenic allowed in the water. So yes, you should differentiate between the two.

    You really don’t wan’t to know too much about the food you eat these days. Let’s just says it’s probably the cause of pretty much every disease we can get, whether it’s because it contains more things that are poisons to us or lacks the real nutrition we need.

    And while we should limit “juices”, store bought milk ain’t that great either. The processing it goes through really makes it bad for you and I wouldn’t drink raw milk from a factory farm cow. The cows that get the growth hormones have more pus in thier milk. Yummy! NOT! I’m ready to have a cow for a pet!

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  23. [...] The US Food & Drug Administration has announced it will limit the amount of inorganic arsenic allowed in apple juice drinks, proposing a limit that would be the same as is allowed in drinking water. The news comes after decades of debate, which flared in 2011 when Dr. Mehmet Oz released a widely publicized study finding higher-than-allowed amounts of to…. [...]