FDA to set new limits on arsenic in apple juice
FDA sets new limits on arsenic in apple juice after pressure from parents, consumer groups
Kids who love their apple juice can guzzle to their hearts’ content now that the federal government has put a lid on arsenic levels in the popular fruit drink.
The Food and Drug Administration has lowered its cap on how much arsenic can appear in apple juice after a year of public pressure from worried parents and consumer groups who feared the contaminant’s effect on children.
Apple juice is second only to orange juice in popularity nationwide, leaving many worried that kids were ingesting too much of the cancer-causing agent with their favorite fruity libation. Various studies have shown that apple juice contains low levels of arsenic, a known carcinogen. Arsenic occurs naturally in dirt and has also been found in water and is used in pesticides. The FDA has monitored arsenic in apple juice for decades and has long said the levels were not dangerous to small children.
But a controversy broke out after Dr. Mehmet Oz highlighted arsenic juice levels on his wildly popular afternoon TV show in 2010. Oz got in a public slinging match with the FDA, which disputed his findings that arsenic levels in juice should be regulated as tightly as those in drinking water, only to reverse that position this week. Now the acceptable level for arsenic in apple juice is the same amount currently permitted in drinking water - 10 parts arsenic per billion.
“I applaud the FDA's new guidelines on arsenic limits in beverages as an example of how our system works when scientists engage in healthy debate. My work with the FDA surrounding our arsenic show coverage concluded with their pledge to review acceptable limits and today they have delivered on that pledge and made each home a safer place with less poisons” Oz said in a release.
According to FDA officials, the majority of juices already on the market are well below the new threshold — but those that aren’t could be removed from shelves and face legal action if they don’t comply with the new standards.
The FDA’s new standard targets inorganic arsenic (the type found in pesticides) which can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period. Organic arsenic occurs naturally in dirt and soil and passes through the body quickly without causing harm, according to the FDA. Many apples used to produce juice are from countries where arsenic in pesticides is not regulated, which means it finds its way into the U.S. food chain through imported goods, according to producers at Oz’s show.
The FDA’s new number is based on lifetime exposure to arsenic and the potential for long-term cancer risk. The agency will take comments on the draft regulation for 60 days before making it binding.