In 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.
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