An analysis on arsenic in apple juice released today by the Consumer Reports magazine found that some samples had arsenic levels exceeding federal drinking-water standards, posing health riss.
Consumer Reports tested 88 samples of apple juice and grape juice from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and found that 10 percent of those had total arsenic levels exceeding federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (PPB). Levels of arsenic in the apple juices ranged from 1.1 to 13.9 ppb, and grape-juice levels were even higher, 5.9 to 24.7 ppb.
"Most of the arsenic detected in the tests was the type called inorganic, which is a human carcinogen," the Consumer Reports analysis said.
As a result, Consumer Reports urged the Federal Government to set a standard of 3 ppb for total inorganic arsenic, far less than current guidelines. Read here the Consumer Reports Analysis.
In a letter dated Nov. 21 the Food and Drug Administration said it is now testing apple juice samples to determine if it should establish a "guidance level" for inorganic arsenic in apple juice that represents a potential health risk. Read here the FDA Letter.
Health Risks of Long-Term Exposure to Arsenic
Chronic arsenic exposure can initially cause gastrointestinal problems and skin discoloration or lesions. Exposure over time, which the World Health Organization says could be five to 20 years, could increase the risk of various cancers and high blood pressure, diabetes, and reproductive problems, according to the Consumer Reports investigation.
How much is too much?
The FDA has said that the limit for arsenic in drinking-water (10 ppb) is based in a variety of factors, including a higher estimated consumption for drinking water than for apple juice. In addition, the form of arsenic in drinking water, unlike fruit juice, is almost entirely inorganic arsenic.
According to the FDA, 23 ppb of inorganic arsenic in fruit juices is a "level of concern," but it is not a mandatory limit nor is it based on arsenic's well-established cancer risks, Consumer Reports said.
Consumer Reports backs Dr. Oz
Today's report supports a popular talk show host, Dr Mehmet Oz who back in September aired a show about hazardous levels of arsenic in apple juice. He rose concerns that arsenic could increase risks of disease such as kidney failure.
His report was widely criticized because he had not distinguished between organic arsenic which is harmless, and inorganic arsenic. The Food and Drug Administration said back then that Dr. Oz' results could not be used to determine whether there is an unsafe amount of arsenic in the juice.
The FDA said that "small amounts" of organic and inorganic arsenic may be found in certain food and beverage products, the FDA but that the organic form was "essentially harmless."