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The Buzz About Arsenic in Juice

30 Nov. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich
arsenic in juice, apple juice, safety concerns with juice, inorganic arsenic

Recently a Consumer Reports study found abnormally high levels of total arsenic [organic + inorganic arsenic] in juices. The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, claims that this study is a gross generalization, partly due to the small sample size. According to the FDA, apple juice is perfectly safe to drink. But what are the facts so you can make the best decision for you and your child now?

  • Organic arsenic is when arsenic atoms are bonded with carbon, and is found in water and plants.

    "These reports should not be used to create fear, but to build knowledge"
    This is considered a less harmful form of arsenic compared to inorganic.

  • Inorganic arsenic is when it is in its pure, metallic form. It is found in the soil and rocks.

  • Arsenic was commonly used on crops to keep pests away. Many countries, like the U.S., banned the use of arsenic on crops, but many developing countries have no regulations.

  • Inorganic arsenic can take anywhere between 2 days and 38 days to be eliminated from the body [in urine] with over 65 percent being removed in 2 days.

  • Arsenic is likely to be present in many of your foods or juices, but is normally [or assumed to be] at low or non-toxic levels.

  • In the Consumer Reports study, 88 juice samples were tested.

  • 10 percent of the juice samples contained more than 10 parts per billion, which is above what the FDA has set for the maximum in drinking water. The 10 parts per billion is the total arsenic, or combination of inorganic and organic arsenic.

  • Ten parts per billion of arsenic cannot cause acute arsenic poisoning, but can cause health problems, such as cancer, from long-term, or chronic, exposure.

  • Currently, the FDA has no arsenic regulations on juice.

Considering these facts, there is no reason to stop giving your child juice. However, this study raises some red flags that should be further investigated and regulated accordingly. These reports should not be used to create fear, but to build knowledge about the foods and beverages we consume on a regularly basis. So we can make better educated decisions. If you are still leery about consuming juice drinks, or giving them to your children, consider reducing you or your child's juice intake until further information comes out.


Image: Robert Cochrane /


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