These poison apples won’t help you find prince charming

Recent reports have brought forth startling news. The juices we drink may not be as safe or as healthy as we think. This recent report has stated that there are higher than recommended levels of arsenic in fruit juices.

The report was published in the wake of TV talk show host Dr. Hegmet Oz’s findings of high arsenic levels in apple juice. While Oz was accused of fear mongering, a consumer group has now done its own study.

The Consumer Union is the group responsible for the most recent findings. They tested 88 juice samples. Most of the juices they tested were apple juices.

Of the juices in the study, 10% were found to contain not only arsenic, but levels of arsenic higher than the standard federal mandate for drinking water. The surprising part is that one quarter of the test juices had lead levels higher than the FDA standard for bottled water.

The levels of arsenic in apple juice studied was as high as 14 parts per billion, or ppb. The highest levels were found in grape juice, one of which that had 25 ppb.

Image by John Rumburg.

It’s important to understand there are two different types of arsenic: organic and non-organic. The non-organic version of arsenic is the type being examined in this study, as it’s the more dangerous of the two. The initial study was criticized for its failure to identify between the two types.

As it stands, the FDA doesn’t have a limit on the level of arsenic in juice. What the FDA does have is a level of concern which is set at 23 ppb.

The consumer report group recommends that arsenic limits be set at 3 ppb. Based on their recommended level, 59% of the samples would not be safe to drink.

The real concern with the levels of arsenic found in apple juice is the affect it may have on children. Children typically consume more juice than is recommended by pediatricians. These high levels of arsenic could potentially lead to the increased risk of cancer in children. Many pediatricians encourage parents to give their children fruits instead of juice.

How is the arsenic getting into the apples in the first place? Arsenic is a treat to apple trees while they suck up natural organic arsenic when they can. Farmers use it to treat the trees to prevent pests from affecting the plants and the crop. This more toxic form of arsenic effectively kills pests and ultimately is more hazardous to humans. Most of the apples used in apple juice come from China, which has less strenuous safety regulations on pesticides.

This report serves to highlight the importance of the need to understand where and how foods and products are made. The more consumers know about the products they consume, the more they will be able to do to make informed and healthy decisions about what goes into their bodies.