Study Finds Arsenic In Some Apple Juice May Exceed Standards

A study just revealed that arsenic in some apple juice may exceed established, federal standards. The study was released by Consumer Reports magazine and indicated that some samples exceeded federal drinking water standards, which poses health risks.

Consumer Reports tested 88 apple and grape juice samples from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, said Medical Daily. Tests revealed that 10% contained total arsenic levels in excess of the federal standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb). Apple juice levels ranged from 1.1 to 13.9 ppb, while grape-juice levels, which were higher, ranging from 5.9 to 24.7 ppb.

“Most of the arsenic detected in the tests was the type called inorganic, which is a human carcinogen,” the Consumer Reports analysis said. Since, Consumer Reports has asked the federal government to set a 3 ppb standard for total inorganic arsenic, which is significantly lower than current guidelines, it said. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said it is testing apple juice samples to decide on whether or not to establish a guidance level for inorganic arsenic in apple juice, said Medical Daily.

Although prompted by a consumer group to strengthen arsenic standards, the government maintains that apple juice is safe to drink, said The Associated Press (AP). Although studies show the toxin in low levels, consumer advocates argue that the agency allows too much of the deadly chemical in apple juices, which are often consumed by children.

Medical Daily explained that ongoing arsenic exposure can, at first, lead to gastrointestinal problems and skin discoloration or lesions. Long-term exposure—described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as between five to 20 years—could increase risks for cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes, and reproductive problems, according to Consumer Reports.

The FDA said that 23 ppb of inorganic arsenic in fruit juices is a “level of concern”; however, that is not a mandatory limit and is not based on arsenic’s known cancer risks, according to Consumer Reports. The FDA described organic arsenic as “essentially harmless,” said Medical Daily, and that arsenic, in its organic and inorganic forms, can be found in some foods and beverages in “small amounts,” wrote Medical Daily.

In essence, pointed out the AP, there really is no agreement on how harmful small doses of the toxin can be to children and, according to FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, Michael Taylor, the FDA has increased its arsenic testing and research activities concerning arsenic and its presence in apple and other juices. Taylor said the agency is “seriously considering” lowering its “level of concern” for arsenic, said the AP.

Arsenic can be found naturally in water, air, food, and soil in both organic and inorganic forms, explained the AP. While organic arsenic passes out of the body quickly and is considered harmless, inorganic arsenic, which can be found in pesticides, for instance, can be toxic and carcinogenic.

“We continue to think that apple juice is generally safe based on the fact that the vast majority of samples are very low,” Taylor said. “But we want to minimize these exposures as much as we possibly can,” he said, according to the AP.

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