Following its recent study that found potentially dangerous levels of arsenic and lead in samples of apple and grape juice, Consumers Union, a consumer advocacy group, recommended that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establish new thresholds for toxin levels in juice products. The results of the report come two months after Dr. Mehmet Oz issued a contentious warning that some brands of apple juice contained higher than normal levels of arsenic.
Consumer Reports, the research arm of Consumer Union, tested 88 samples of apple and grape juice from five well-known brands, including Mott’s, Minute Maid and Welch’s, and found that 10 percent of the samples surpassed government drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb), and 25 percent of the samples had lead levels higher than the bottled-water limit of 5 ppb. Most of the arsenic detected in the tests was inorganic, a type that is a human carcinogen and known to cause cancer at very high levels of consumption.
Although the FDA has established a specific “level of concern” for inorganic arsenic in apple juice at 23 ppb, Consumer Reports called the guideline “an inadequate reference point for establishing a protective limit for public health.” The FDA has set the recommended maximum level for lead in fruit juice at 50 ppb.
The Juice Products Association (JPA) quickly issued a statement in response to the Consumer Reports study stating that, “juice is safe for consumers of all ages.” The JPA pointed out that “none of the juice samples tested by Consumer Reports exceeded the 23 ppb level of concern for inorganic arsenic or the maximum [FDA] level for lead in fruit juice.”
While the FDA did not immediately issue a response to the Consumer Reports study, the government agency recently sent a letter to two consumer groups, which stated that “monitoring has found that total arsenic levels in apple juice are typically low.” However, the FDA added that that it was “seriously considering setting guidance or other level for inorganic arsenic in apple juice and collecting all relevant information to evaluate and determine an appropriate level.”