An Apple A Day Won’t Keep the Arsenic Away

After daytime talk show host Dr. Oz caused what some experts claimed was an unjustified panic over arsenic levels found in apple juice earlier this year, new research supports the TV show host’s concerns, prompting the FDA to take a closer look at regulating allowable levels of arsenic in food and beverages.

In a September episode of the Dr. Oz show, more than 20 percent of the 36 apple juice samples tested on his program contained high levels of the harmful types of arsenic—a known carcinogen. Arsenic is found in soil and water and in foods—including apple and grape juices—and a controversy ensued over whether or not the findings should cause concern. The limit for arsenic in water is 10 parts per billion, but there are currently no federal arsenic limits for most foods.

A recent study conducted by Consumer Reports found high levels of arsenic in some of the juice industry leaders including Minute Maid, Mott’s, Gerber’s and Welch’s.

With no standards for arsenic in apple juice—a product often given to children—the high levels are of particular concern to parents and consumer groups, but the FDA will not issue a limit on arsenic until its completed its own testing, says the agency.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that has been used in agricultural and industrial applications in large quantities for more than a century, contaminating soil and groundwater. Inorganic arsenic has been linked to a number of cancers including bladder, lung and skin cancer, and has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and immunodeficiencies.

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Image: stevendepolo