Study: Arsenic Found in Apple, Grape Juices

A new study of apple and grape juices by Consumer Reports has found high levels of arsenic in some brands, The Today Show reported yesterday.  The new findings follow a widely-discussed and controversial study released in September by Dr. Mehmet Oz, in which he accused apple juice makers of allowing higher levels of arsenic than are allowed by federal regulators.

Ten percent of the 88 juice samples tested by Consumer Reports were found to have detectable arsenic at levels higher than the 10 parts per billion (ppb) allowed by the Food & Drug Administration.  Welch’s Pourable Concentrate 100% Apple Juice had the lowest arsenic level (1.1-4.3 total arsenic ppb), and America’s Choice Apple, Tropicana 100% Apple, and Red Jacket Orchards 100% Apple also had low levels.

The new study continues a debate over whether there is a difference in health risk between organic and inorganic arsenic compounds.  Dr. Oz’s study had reported “total arsenic” counts, rather than distinguishing between the two types of compounds, as the FDA does.  Inorganic arsenic is known to raise the risk that a person will develop cancer or other chronic health problems.  But Consumer Reports says that there are questions about the safety or organic compounds as well, writing, “Use of organic arsenic in agricultural products has caused concern. For instance, the EPA in 2006 took steps to stop the use of herbicides containing organic arsenic because of their potential to turn into inorganic arsenic in the soil and contaminate drinking water.”

The FDA responded to the article with a statement saying the agency was considering changing or tightening its standard for allowable arsenic in juices:

“We welcome the research that Consumer Reports has undertaken and look forward to reviewing the data that formed the basis for their story and their recommendations,” the agency noted. “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”

Nutritionists urge parents to limit the amount of juice their children consume, not only because of contamination concerns, but because of the high calories contained in the drinks.  Parents should offer their children water or milk to drink, and whole fruits as snacks.

Image:  Apples and apple juice, via Shutterstock

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  1. by Careful Momma

    On December 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I bet most of the contaminated ones are Made in China. Can you believe we are importing food from China now? Those people are trying to kill off the next generation of the US with all their tainted goods & we let the Trojan Horse right in, didn’t we?

  2. by Beth

    On December 1, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Where is the arsenic coming from–the fruit or the water used in the juice? Because if it’s coming from the fruit, then there’s a danger of giving kids whole fruit, too. If it’s coming from the water, then is the groundwater contaminated?

  3. by Lauren

    On December 8, 2011 at 9:52 am

    The arsenic is coming from the seeds of the fruits. I found out about it because I have 3 parrots and they cannot eat the apple seeds due to arsenic. I’d imagine they probably don’t core the apples prior to juicing. I’m guessing it’s not cost efficient so they instead put our health at risk. Lovely. Don’t be surprised when the juice prices skyrocket once they have to change their methods.

  4. by Lauren

    On December 8, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I guess writing facts gets your comments deleted. What a crock o’ crap. Enjoy your arsenic laden apple seeds people.

  5. by Hugh

    On December 26, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Have you seen the sun over miami?