The debate over whether apple juice is safe to drink continues this week.
The Dr. Oz Show has tested three dozen samples of juice from five different brands in three different cities in the U.S. and compared the levels of arsenic in the juices to the standards of arsenic allowed in drinking water. Today's program will report 10 juice samples had more arsenic than the 10 parts per billion allowed in drinking water.
The Food and Drug Administration has responded by saying it has “every confidence in the safety of apple juice” and warned the producers of the program their findings are misleading.
Arsenic is present naturally in the environment, and organic arsenic is essentially harmless, but long-term or high exposure to inorganic arsenic is considered a health risk.
Small amounts of arsenic are in certain foods — including fruit juices — and the FDA says it does annual tests of baby food and apple juice for the presence of the inorganic form of arsenic for safety. Apple juice is also targeted under another program testing for harmful substances in food and beverages, the agency says.
Why isn’t there a safe level for arsenic in apple juice when there’s a safe level for arsenic in drinking water? The two can’t be compared, according to Henry Kim, supervisory chemist at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition: The form of arsenic that mostly turns up in foods is the organic kind and the form of arsenic that turns up in drinking water is the inorganic kind.
Anyway, remember apple juice is a sugary beverage (that also misses all the fiber you’d get from eating an apple) and too many sugary beverages help boost childhood obesity and dental problems. When kids are thirsty between meals, consider giving them a drink of water instead.
FDA fact sheet about arsenic in apple juice: http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm271595.htm
Letter from FDA to Dr. Oz show: http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm271630.htm