The Environmental Protection Agency sets a limit for the amount of inorganic arsenic (the carcinogenic kind), in drinking water. Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing a similar maximum limit on arsenic found in apple juice, a problem highlighted by Dr. Oz, Consumer Reports, Food & Water Watch and other watchdog groups over the last few years.
While FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, says the agency is confident in the overall safety of apple juice for children and adults, the proposed rule would limit the level of carcinogenic arsenic in fruit juice to 10 parts per billion, the same limit on drinking water.
FDA has been monitoring the presence of arsenic in apple juice for 20 years and said levels are usually low, with some exceptions. Looking at 94 apple juice samples, they found 95 percent contained arsenic levels below the proposed 10 ppb threshold.
"While the levels of arsenic in apple juice are very low, the FDA is proposing an action level to help prevent public exposure to the occasional lots of apple juice with arsenic levels above those permitted in drinking water," Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in a statement.
There are a few ways inorganic arsenic can find its way into food and drinks. It's a naturally occurring heavy metal that can make its way into water and food, but it also lingers in apple orchards and other agricultural fields that were treated with arsenic-based pesticides in the past. A known carcinogen, inorganic arsenic has been associated with skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, and diabetes.
The agency will accept public comment on the proposed action level and the risk assessment for 60 days.
"We're extremely pleased by the news that the FDA has proposed a standard that would reduce the allowable level of arsenic in apple juice, now holding the popular drink consumed largely by children to the same standard as our drinking water," Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement. "We'll continue to lobby the agency to make sure they finalize and enforce these proposed standards."
The watchdog organization said it hopes the FDA will continue to monitor the levels of heavy metals and contaminants in food—particularly imported food—since two-thirds of the apple juice Americans consume comes from China.
To learn more about threats in juice, read 6 Surprising Ways Juice Companies Trick You.
Published on: July 15, 2013
Updated on: July 16, 2013