Way back in July of 2011, we first told you about told you about the the extremely high levels of arsenic found in Mott’s Apple Juice. Then in September Dr. Oz and his team, ran their own tests and found that it was true; most apple juice brands contained more arsenic than the EPA deems safe in drinking water. Those first two rounds of tests encouraged Consumer Reports to run their own testing and just this week they found that, yet again, far too many juice brands contain unsafe levels of arsenic. Consumer Reports notes that this newest round of testing has prompted the organization to call for government standards to limit consumers’ exposure to these toxins. Right now, there are set federal limits about how much arsenic and lead can be in both bottled and drinking water but there are absolutely zero limits set when it comes to juice. Consumer Reports is concerned because a recent poll they conducted showed that juice is a mainstay of many children’s diets.

The Consumer Reports research included an analysis of the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) database along with interviews of physicians and authors of peer-reviewed studies, all of which shows that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead, at levels even below federal standards for water, can result in serious health problems. Young children and babies in the womb are more at risk for these health issues due to their smaller, still developing bodies. That said, Consumers Union, the advocacy subgroup of Consumer Reports, thinks that the FDA’s “level of concern” regarding arsenic in juice is inadequate to protect public health and is urging the FDA to set a more protective standard of 3 ppb for total arsenic and 5 ppb for lead in juice. According to Consumer Reports, this isn’t a stretch by any means, as 41% of juice tested already meets such safety standards.

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According to an AP article, Wednesday the FDA said the agency is seriously considering lowering the “level of concern” for arsenic. But it seems the FDA is reluctant to take any action because they feel juice is pretty darn safe. At their website, the FDA notes the following:

“FDA has been tracking total arsenic contamination in apple and other juices through its Toxic Elements program since 2005 and as part of the FDA Total Diet Study program for the presence of arsenic since 1991. FDA monitoring has found that total arsenic levels in apple juice are typically low. FDA considers the general consumption of fruit juices, including apple juice, to be safe.”

However, Consumer Reports points out that the FDA tests very little juice, in comparison to what’s actually being ingested by kids and the FDA “safe” levels don’t take into account arsenic’s well-established cancer risks. All-in-all, Consumers Union notes that the FDA already has the scientific data it needs to set safer juice standards, they simply won’t. It’s depressing that yet again the FDA is ignoring consumer health organizations, public health advocates and parents who want safer standards for kids. Maybe we should have the American Chemical Council send them a memo? For now, all parents can do to make a difference is to avoid juice companies who allow high levels of arsenic in their juice. See Consumer Reports’ test results (pdf).

Another smart solution? Stop giving kids so much juice, especially apple juice. According to a recent Consumer Reports’ poll, kids are drinking a lot of juice: 26 percent of toddlers and 45 percent of children ages 3 to 5 drink seven or more ounces of juice a day. Yet, kids under 6 years old shouldn’t be drinking more than four to six ounces each day. The problems of sugar-filled fruit juices go beyond arsenic in apple juice – too much juice can contribute to juvenile diabetes, childhood obesity and a lot of wasteful packaging heading to landfills.

+ Consumer Reports

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