Friday, December 2, 2011

Good Juice, Bad Juice

Did you hear the breaking news yesterday about dangerous levels of arsenic being found in our kids’ apple and grape juices? Well, it’s serious business.

Consumer advocates are saying the FDA is allowing too much inorganic arsenic into apple and grape juice and that the government is failing to enforce protective standards. The FDA allows 23 parts per billion as a benchmark to determine whether apple juice is contaminated. Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, is calling for this level to be reduced to as low as 3 parts per billion. The EPA’s level for drinking water, set at 10 parts per billion, is much safer than the juice our little ones are currently drinking!

Consumer Reports, a product-testing organization, analyzed 88 samples of juice and found that 9 of those samples had arsenic levels exceeding federal limits set for drinking water. Of those brands sampled were:
  • Apple & Eve
  • Great Value
  • Mott’s
  • Walgreens
  • Welch’s
At least one of each of these brands had a sample that exceeded the 10 parts per billion threshold. Consumer Reports also reported that 25% of all juice samples had lead levels at or above the federal limit for bottled water. Grape juice samples were actually higher than apple juice.

What are the dangers of arsenic? Well, organic arsenic is not harmful to the body and will quickly pass through. It’s the inorganic arsenic that’s the problem. Inorganic arsenic is known to cause bladder, lung, and skin cancer as well as increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some reports have even suggested that arsenic exposure can affect brain development in children!

So what should you do if you have a juice-drinking toddler? All of the experts, including the government and consumer advocates, agree that the concern is over drinking large amounts of juice over a long period of time. Drinking small amounts of apple juice is not harmful. However, options to consider are:
  • Limit juice intake of children under 6 to 6 ounces a day.
  • Limit juice intake of children over 6 to no more than 8-12 ounces a day
  • Infants under 6 months should not consume juice at all
  • Dilute your child’s juice with water first
  • Diversify brands of juice purchased in case one brand tends to have higher arsenic levels

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