Arsenic in Fruit Juice

Zoe Hamilton limits how much juice she gives her daughters because she's concerned about the "empty calories." But there are other serious reasons for concern.

Consumer Reports tested 28 apple juices and three grape juices purchased in the New York metropolitan area.

Of the 88 samples analyzed, 10% had arsenic levels that exceeded federal standards for bottled and municipal water.

Dr. Urvashi Rangan with Consumer Reports says, "The majority of the arsenic detected was the inorganic form - a known carcinogen linked to skin, bladder, and lung cancer."

And with 12 juices Consumer Reports tested, at least one sample contained lead levels that exceeded standards for bottled water.

Dr. Rangan explains, "Our test was limited, so we can't draw any conclusions about any particular type or brand of juice. But the higher levels of arsenic and lead we found are troubling because many children drink a lot of juice, and their small body size makes them particularly vulnerable."

One likely source of the contamination is pesticides containing arsenic that were used in agriculture. Even though most are now banned, they can remain in the soil.

The advocacy arm of Consumer Reports is urging the Food and Drug Administration to set standards for juice.

Dr. Rangan says, "We think the lead limits should be five parts per billion, the current standards for bottled water, or even lower. And for arsenic - three parts per billion. That's attainable. 41% of the samples we tested met both those levels."

The Juice Products Association told Consumer Reports: "We are committed to providing nutritious and safe fruit juices … and will comply with limits" established by the Food and Drug Administration.

For now, Consumer Reports says the best advice for parents is to do what Zoe does and limit how much juice your children drink.

The Food and Drug Administration told Consumer Reports it's reviewing its own data to see if guidelines for juice should be set.

It turns out the F-D-A has found levels of arsenic in apple juice that are even higher than what Consumer Reports' tests discovered.

To read the complete investigation by Consumer Reports click on the link below.

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