Nov 30, 2011 – ABC’s Good Morning America reported this morning on brand-new evidence that some of America’s most popular brands of juice may contain high levels of arsenic. But this is not the first time ABC has commented on arsenic levels in juice. In September of this year, ABC’s Chief Health Medical Editor, Dr. Richard Besser, very passionately and openly opposed Dr. Oz from the popular Dr. Oz Show regarding Dr. Oz’s concerns of arsenic in apple juice. Dr. Besser accused Dr. Oz of “fear-mongering”. But today, Dr. Besser agrees that these new findings regarding arsenic levels are a big deal! Why the change of heart?
ABC’s Lindsey Davis reported that Consumer Reports did it’s own investigation, testing both apple and grape juice. They tested 88 samples, among them were popular brands like Mott’s, Welch’s and Great Value. 10% had total arsenic levels greater than the federal standard for drinking water. What’s more, 25% of them also had lead levels higher than the FDA standard for bottled water.
The Juice Products Association responded by saying “juice is not water. To compare the trace levels of arsenic or lead in juice to the regulatory guidelines for drinking water is not appropriate.”
In a statement to ABC News about the Consumer Report data, the FDA said “a small percentage of samples contained elevated levels of arsenic. In response, the FDA has expanded our surveillance activities and is collecting additional data.”
Patty Lovera from the Food and Water Watch, says “this is movement and is encouraging. But we really want to see the agency (FDA) came to the point where they figure out the right levels.”
Lindsey Davis reported that just over a week ago, the FDA, announced results of it’s own testing of apple juice. They found 8 samples out of 160 had arsenic levels that exceeded the FDA’s current level of concern for inorganic arsenic.
Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts felt that this was the very thing that Dr. Oz was trying to alert us about.
And Dr. Besser admits that we have cause to be concerned. He said at first (during his debate with Dr. Oz) he was reassured when he saw the initial results but in light of this new evidence he is not now reassured.
Dr. Besser said he is pretty upset with the FDA at this point. He said that back in September when this issue came up, the FDA made a number of statements that reassured him.
He said the FDA said there was an industry standard, but it turns out there is not. The FDA said that the type of arsenic that was in apple juice was the safe kind. Turns out it is not. This issue is about the harmful type of arsenic and the over exposure to high levels and long time exposure is what is linked to cancer.
To reassure the public the FDA published the results of their tests online so that we could all look at it. The problem is they withheld eight results that were very high.
He also noted that although the Consumer Reports found 10% of the samples had arsenic levels higher than what’s allowed in drinking water, none of the samples had levels higher than what FDA uses as an internal level for checking apple juice. But he says the big question is if the level that the FDA uses, is the right level? Or should it be lower. Should it be closer to what is used for drinking water?
So, what can we do?
As a pediatrician, Dr. Besser says he always advises limiting children’s juice consumption because it is linked to obesity. And to further safe guard against over exposure to arsenic he advises:
- children under seven should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day
- older than seven, 8 to 12 ounces of juice per day should be fine
- babies younger than six months should have no juice whatsoever
- babies should never take juice in a bottle. He feels it contributes to babies becoming “Juice-oholics”
Dr. Besser ends by saying the FDA needs to set standards and do more testing, and hold industry accountable.
For a complete list the Consumer Reports test results visit Consumer Reports.org
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