November 30, 2011
Tested Juices Exceed Levels Of Arsenic Allowed By FDA
A recent Consumer Reports analysis shows that 10 percent of juice samples from five brands had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards.
The study included tests of apple and grape juice, a scientific analysis of federal health data, a consumer poll, and interviews with doctors and other experts.
Consumer Reports studied 88 samples of apple juice and grape juice purchased in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut by its staffers. It said that 10 percent of the samples had arsenic levels higher than federal drinking water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb).
They also found that one in four samples had lead levels higher than the FDA's bottled-water limit of 5 ppb, and said that no federal limit exists for lead in juice.
Consumer Reports said that the scientists involved in the study believe that juice should at least meet the 5 ppb lead limit for bottled water, and they recommend an even lower arsenic limit for juice of 3 ppb.
“People sometimes say, ℠If arsenic exposure is so bad, why don´t you see more people sick or dying from it?´ But the many diseases likely to be increased by exposure even at relatively low levels are so common already that its effects are overlooked simply because no one has looked carefully for the connection,” Joshua Hamilton, Ph.D., a toxicologist specializing in arsenic research and the chief academic and scientific officer at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., said in a press release.
They said that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead even at levels below federal standards for water can result in serious health problems, especially for those who are exposed in the womb or during early childhood.
"According to the agency´s 2008 hazard assessment, 23 ppb of inorganic arsenic would represent a potential health risk," Consumer reports said in a report. "But that 23 ppb 'level of concern' is not a mandatory limit, nor is it based on arsenic´s well-established cancer risks."
It said that the FDA's "level of concern" is an inadequate reference point for establishing a protective limit for public health.
Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, reached out to FDA officials and received a letter back, saying that the agency is considering setting guidance for the level of inorganic arsenic permissible in apple juice.
Consumers Union said that the FDA already has the data it needs to set juice standards, and that a guidance level must be followed by the establishment of a legally binding standard.
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