Dr. Oz alarmed many parents (myself included) when he revealed in a show that aired yesterday that a number of samples of apple juice he had tested allegedly contained levels of arsenic that measured higher than what the EPA considers safe for drinking water.
How does the arsenic get into the apple juice? Dr. Oz reports that some of the concentrate used to make apple juice originates in China and other countries where arsenic levels in the soil are much higher AND pesticides used on the fruit can contain arsenic as well. Dr. Oz went as far as to “name names” and call out the brands his testing showed as having higher arsenic levels. He recommended that parents examine apple juice for labels showing country of origin and stick to apples grown in the US. He also stated that the FDA has no limit to the amount of arsenic that can be present in foods coming into the US.
This left me wondering about the juice boxes I had just purchased for LJ’s lunches. I headed to the pantry to see what I could learn and how difficult it would be to identify the source of my juice.
Today on Good Morning America, Dr. Richard Besser called Dr. Oz’s claims “extremely irresponsible”. He argued that arsenic exists in two forms (organic and inorganic), and that only one is harmful. He stated that by only testing for the total amount of arsenic, the test is not giving a clear picture of what the harmful levels are. Dr. Oz refuted Dr. Besser’s claims that organic arsenic is not harmful. Dr. Besser also questioned the accuracy of the tests since they were only run by one lab.
The brands in question as well as the Juice Products Association did not appear on the Dr. Oz show, but sent statements that are available on Dr. Oz’s website. They stand by the fact that the levels of arsenic in their juice are compliant with FDA standards (remember, Dr. Oz pointed out that the FDA has no standards set on these levels).
I’ll be interested to see how this plays out over the upcoming weeks. It certainly brings to light some of the issues we face when we start bringing in foods produced in other countries and depending on our government agencies to keep us safe.
Are you concerned about arsenic in the apple juice you give to your kids? Why or why not? I’d love to hear what you think!