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FDA: Apple Juice is Safe to Drink

Arsenic and apple juice. Not words you like to see in the same sentence.

juicewithapples-350.jpg

There has been publicity recently over the amount of arsenic in the apple juice that many children drink.

But the Food and Drug Administration has every confidence in the safety of apple juice.

Donald Zink, Ph.D, senior science advisor at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), explains that arsenic is present in the environment as a naturally occurring substance or as a result of contamination from human activity.  It is found in water, air, food, and soil in organic and inorganic forms.

As a result, small amounts of arsenic can be found in certain food and beverage products–including fruit juices and juice concentrates.

“As a parent and grandparent myself, I understand the concern over recent reports that arsenic has been found in apple juice,” says Zink.

But, he says, there is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices, Zink says. And FDA has been testing them for years. 

Hunting Inorganic Arsenic

Organic arsenic is essentially harmless, according to Zink, but the inorganic kind can be harmful at high and long-term levels of exposure.

FDA has been tracking total arsenic contamination in apple and other juices for about six years, since foreign producers started gaining an increasing share of the juice market, says Henry Kim, Ph.D., a supervisory chemist at CFSAN.

The agency searches for potential contaminants in fruit juices and fruit juice concentrate in three ways:

– FDA issues import alerts to keep potentially dangerous products from other countries out of the U.S. marketplace. The agency has issued a specific alert that requires importers to prove their fruit juices and concentrates are safe for consumption before they are allowed to enter the U.S.

– As part of the FDA Total Diet Study program, the agency annually tests baby foods and apple juice samples for the presence of arsenic.

– The agency collects and tests food and beverage samples in another program that looks for harmful substances in foods. Apple juice is one of the targeted products because investigators want to check for total and, if necessary, inorganic arsenic.

There is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices. And FDA has been testing them for years.


Levels Set for Water


Why hasn’t FDA defined the point at which arsenic levels are unsafe in apple juice when such levels have been established for public drinking water and bottled water?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the arsenic standard for public drinking water at 10 parts per billion (ppb) to protect consumers from the effects of long-term exposure to arsenic, which could include skin damage, circulatory problems and an increased risk of cancer.

In concurrence with EPA, FDA has also set the arsenic standard at 10 ppb in bottled water.

So why not set safe levels for arsenic in apple juice?

Kim says that you can’t compare water and juice for several critical reasons. They include the fact that inorganic arsenic is the form found in drinking water, whereas organic arsenic is the form mostly found in food, including juices.

FDA will continue to test juices and juice concentrate and evaluate data provided by industry, consumer groups and government agencies, as well as data published in scientific literature. If the agency finds too much inorganic arsenic in any juice, it will take steps to remove that product from the market, says Zink.

This article, originally posted Sept. 9, 2011, appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.


For More Information

– Questions & Answers: Apple Juice and Arsenic

– Letters from the FDA to the Dr. Oz Show Regarding Apple Juice and Arsenic

– Talking About Juice Safety: What You Need to Know

– Two Simple Steps to Juice Safety

© Food Safety News
  • ETELVINA RUBEGLIO dr.

    I wont to know where fruit juices come from ?
    Thank you

  • ETELVINA RUBEGLIO dr.

    I wont to know where fruit juices come from ?
    Thank you

  • Albert Gam

    Why is the FDA distinguishing between organic and inorganic arsenic (As)? As appears on the periodic table as an element not an organic compound. Does organic arsenic have different properties than inorganic As?
    What distinguishes organic from inorganic As? Does your testing distinguish organic from inorganic arsenic?
    Before I can make an informed decision about the apple juice controversy, I would first need to have these questions answered.
    Thanks in advance for your response.

  • mrothschild

    http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm271595.htm
    What is arsenic?
    Arsenic is present in the environment as a naturally occurring substance or as a result of contamination from human activity. It is found in water, air, food and soil in organic and inorganic forms.
    There are two types of arsenic: organic and inorganic. The inorganic forms of arsenic are the harmful forms, while the organic forms of arsenic are essentially harmless. Because both forms of arsenic have been found in soil and ground water, small amounts may be found in certain food and beverage products, including fruit juices and juice concentrates.
    What type of arsenic has been found to be in fruit juices?
    Organic and inorganic forms of arsenic have both been found in juices.
    Is one type of arsenic more harmful than the other?
    Yes. The inorganic forms of arsenic are the harmful forms, while the organic forms of arsenic are essentially harmless.
    Are apple and other fruit juices safe to drink?
    Yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been testing for arsenic in apple juice and other fruit juices for several years as part of FDA programs that look for harmful substances in food. There is currently no evidence to suggest a public health risk from fruit juices, including apple juice.
    Why is arsenic being found in fruit juices?
    Organic and inorganic forms of arsenic can be found in soil and ground water, and as a result, small amounts may be found in certain food and beverage products.
    Arsenic-based pesticides were commonly used in United States agricultural production up until 1970, when more effective substances became available. As a result, trace levels of organic and inorganic forms of arsenic can be detected in some agricultural settings, which may lead to small amounts of arsenic in certain foods and beverages.
    Can consumers choose apple juice with less arsenic by looking at where it is made? NEW
    The juice sold by any one company can be made from concentrate that is literally sourced throughout the world, including U.S. domestic sources. For example, Asia and South America are major suppliers of apple juice concentrate. Even if a company buys concentrate from only one supplier in a country, such as Argentina, that supplier may be getting juice from a dozen or more different farms within Argentina. If you test enough juice from such a supplier, you will find some lots with higher amounts of arsenic than others. This could be due to different amounts of arsenic in orchard soils.
    Testing a small number of samples of different brands of juice only provides a snapshot in time of how much arsenic was in a particular lot of juice. Without a long term survey of many lots of juice from different companies, there is not sufficient data to say one company has lower amounts of arsenic in its juice than any other company. Based on data collected by the FDA over many years, there is no evidence that juice on the market in the U.S. presents a public health risk from arsenic.
    Does organic apple juice have less arsenic than non-organic apple juice? NEW
    The FDA is unaware of any data that shows that organic juice tends to have less arsenic than non-organic apple juice. Even organic apples come from trees that grow in soil that may contain arsenic. The FDA is not aware of any data on arsenic in organic juice vs. non-organic juice.
    Has FDA set a standard for arsenic in fruit juice?
    No. Available scientific evidence indicates that if arsenic occurs, it almost always does so at very low levels.
    Has FDA set a standard for arsenic in bottled water?
    Yes. The maximum level of arsenic allowed in bottled water is 10 micrograms in one liter of bottled water or 10 parts per billion (ppb).
    Why is there a standard for arsenic in bottled water but not in fruit juice?
    The FDA established a standard for arsenic in bottled water in response to EPA’s establishment of a standard for arsenic in drinking water, as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. This standard is based on 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
    .
    What is the FDA doing to protect the public against arsenic in fruit juice?
    The FDA collects and tests for arsenic, including inorganic arsenic, in fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates made in the U.S. as part of FDA programs that look for harmful substances in food. The FDA considers test results for inorganic arsenic on a case-by-case basis, and takes regulatory action as appropriate.
    The FDA also currently has an Import Alert for surveillance of arsenic, including inorganic arsenic, in fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. An Import Alert is a measure used by FDA to keep potentially dangerous products out of the U.S.
    I have heard reports of test results showing high levels of arsenic in apple juice products. What advice would FDA give consumers based on this information?
    Unless we can determine that the test methods used were for inorganic arsenic and that the method was accurate and properly performed, we are not able to specifically address the test results. It is important to remember that test results for total arsenic do not distinguish between the essentially harmless organic forms of arsenic and the harmful inorganic forms of arsenic. It would be inappropriate to draw conclusions about the safety of a product based on the total arsenic level.
    Does the FDA have a response to the information recently reported on the Dr. Oz Show? NEW
    The FDA is aware of the episode of the Dr. Oz Show that aired on September 14, 2011, where test results for arsenic in apple juice were discussed. The FDA has reviewed the test results performed by EMSL Analytical, Inc., on behalf of the Dr. Oz Show, and we can confirm that the results that were revealed are for total arsenic. The results do not distinguish between the essentially harmless organic forms of arsenic and the harmful inorganic forms of arsenic. Therefore, these results cannot be used to determine whether there is an unsafe amount of arsenic in the juice tested by the Dr. Oz Show.
    It is inappropriate to draw conclusions about the safety of a food based on the total arsenic level since in most instances organic arsenic, which again is essentially harmless and not absorbed by the body, makes up the bulk of the total arsenic in foods like juice.
    Did the FDA test any of the samples tested by the Dr. Oz Show? NEW
    On September 10-11, 2011, the FDA completed laboratory analysis of the same lot of Gerber apple juice that was tested by the Dr. Oz. Show, as well as several other lots produced in the same facility. The FDA’s testing detected very low levels of total arsenic in all samples tested. These new results were consistent with the FDA’s results obtained in the FDA’s routine monitoring program and are well below the results reported by the Dr. Oz Show. The FDA has concluded that the very low levels detected during our analysis are not a public health risk and the juice products are safe for consumption.
    Where can I go to get more information?
    FDA: Apple Juice is Safe to Drink

  • Steve

    Arsenic safety is as arsenic safety does. Here’s another way increased arsenic — of the mutated toxic inorganic kind — can get into soil and then into fruit and vegetables: 2 million pounds of arsenic per year (in the US alone) are fed to CAFO factory farmed chickens for disease control and to promote rapid weight gain.
    Then, copious amounts of the chicken manure produced is used as a fertilizer in spread and pelletized forms on fruit and vegetables. And Voila! — increased arsenic not only in chicken, but through soil into a larger part of our food supply…
    See the article at:
    http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/06/arsenic-chicken-fda-roxarsone-pfizer
    …and here’s a quote from that article:
    “in a peer-reviewed study published in 2006, researchers from the University of Arizona and the U.S. Geological Survey found that the arsenic in roxarsone goes inorganic rapidly in chicken manure—disturbing, since the poultry industry concentrates vast amounts of waste that must somehow be gotten rid of. It gets spread on farm fields (where it can contaminate water tables) and converted into widely used pelleted fertilizer—meaning that inorganic arsenic moves far and wide from its origin in feed additive. That same year, researcher from Johns Hopkins found heightened inorganic arsenic levels in tap water where manure from roxarsone-treated chickens get spread; and researchers from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy did what no federal regulator had ever done: actually test supermarket chicken for inorganic arsenic. They found that “nearly three-quarters of the raw chicken breasts, thighs, and livers from conventional producers that we tested carried detectable levels of arsenic.”….”

  • Mary Rothschild

    http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm271595.htm
    What is arsenic?
    Arsenic is present in the environment as a naturally occurring substance or as a result of contamination from human activity. It is found in water, air, food and soil in organic and inorganic forms.
    There are two types of arsenic: organic and inorganic. The inorganic forms of arsenic are the harmful forms, while the organic forms of arsenic are essentially harmless. Because both forms of arsenic have been found in soil and ground water, small amounts may be found in certain food and beverage products, including fruit juices and juice concentrates.
    What type of arsenic has been found to be in fruit juices?
    Organic and inorganic forms of arsenic have both been found in juices.
    Is one type of arsenic more harmful than the other?
    Yes. The inorganic forms of arsenic are the harmful forms, while the organic forms of arsenic are essentially harmless.
    Are apple and other fruit juices safe to drink?
    Yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been testing for arsenic in apple juice and other fruit juices for several years as part of FDA programs that look for harmful substances in food. There is currently no evidence to suggest a public health risk from fruit juices, including apple juice.
    Why is arsenic being found in fruit juices?
    Organic and inorganic forms of arsenic can be found in soil and ground water, and as a result, small amounts may be found in certain food and beverage products.
    Arsenic-based pesticides were commonly used in United States agricultural production up until 1970, when more effective substances became available. As a result, trace levels of organic and inorganic forms of arsenic can be detected in some agricultural settings, which may lead to small amounts of arsenic in certain foods and beverages.
    Can consumers choose apple juice with less arsenic by looking at where it is made? NEW
    The juice sold by any one company can be made from concentrate that is literally sourced throughout the world, including U.S. domestic sources. For example, Asia and South America are major suppliers of apple juice concentrate. Even if a company buys concentrate from only one supplier in a country, such as Argentina, that supplier may be getting juice from a dozen or more different farms within Argentina. If you test enough juice from such a supplier, you will find some lots with higher amounts of arsenic than others. This could be due to different amounts of arsenic in orchard soils.
    Testing a small number of samples of different brands of juice only provides a snapshot in time of how much arsenic was in a particular lot of juice. Without a long term survey of many lots of juice from different companies, there is not sufficient data to say one company has lower amounts of arsenic in its juice than any other company. Based on data collected by the FDA over many years, there is no evidence that juice on the market in the U.S. presents a public health risk from arsenic.
    Does organic apple juice have less arsenic than non-organic apple juice? NEW
    The FDA is unaware of any data that shows that organic juice tends to have less arsenic than non-organic apple juice. Even organic apples come from trees that grow in soil that may contain arsenic. The FDA is not aware of any data on arsenic in organic juice vs. non-organic juice.
    Has FDA set a standard for arsenic in fruit juice?
    No. Available scientific evidence indicates that if arsenic occurs, it almost always does so at very low levels.
    Has FDA set a standard for arsenic in bottled water?
    Yes. The maximum level of arsenic allowed in bottled water is 10 micrograms in one liter of bottled water or 10 parts per billion (ppb).
    Why is there a standard for arsenic in bottled water but not in fruit juice?
    The FDA established a standard for arsenic in bottled water in response to EPA’s establishment of a standard for arsenic in drinking water, as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. This standard is based on 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
    .
    What is the FDA doing to protect the public against arsenic in fruit juice?
    The FDA collects and tests for arsenic, including inorganic arsenic, in fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates made in the U.S. as part of FDA programs that look for harmful substances in food. The FDA considers test results for inorganic arsenic on a case-by-case basis, and takes regulatory action as appropriate.
    The FDA also currently has an Import Alert for surveillance of arsenic, including inorganic arsenic, in fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. An Import Alert is a measure used by FDA to keep potentially dangerous products out of the U.S.
    I have heard reports of test results showing high levels of arsenic in apple juice products. What advice would FDA give consumers based on this information?
    Unless we can determine that the test methods used were for inorganic arsenic and that the method was accurate and properly performed, we are not able to specifically address the test results. It is important to remember that test results for total arsenic do not distinguish between the essentially harmless organic forms of arsenic and the harmful inorganic forms of arsenic. It would be inappropriate to draw conclusions about the safety of a product based on the total arsenic level.
    Does the FDA have a response to the information recently reported on the Dr. Oz Show? NEW
    The FDA is aware of the episode of the Dr. Oz Show that aired on September 14, 2011, where test results for arsenic in apple juice were discussed. The FDA has reviewed the test results performed by EMSL Analytical, Inc., on behalf of the Dr. Oz Show, and we can confirm that the results that were revealed are for total arsenic. The results do not distinguish between the essentially harmless organic forms of arsenic and the harmful inorganic forms of arsenic. Therefore, these results cannot be used to determine whether there is an unsafe amount of arsenic in the juice tested by the Dr. Oz Show.
    It is inappropriate to draw conclusions about the safety of a food based on the total arsenic level since in most instances organic arsenic, which again is essentially harmless and not absorbed by the body, makes up the bulk of the total arsenic in foods like juice.
    Did the FDA test any of the samples tested by the Dr. Oz Show? NEW
    On September 10-11, 2011, the FDA completed laboratory analysis of the same lot of Gerber apple juice that was tested by the Dr. Oz. Show, as well as several other lots produced in the same facility. The FDA’s testing detected very low levels of total arsenic in all samples tested. These new results were consistent with the FDA’s results obtained in the FDA’s routine monitoring program and are well below the results reported by the Dr. Oz Show. The FDA has concluded that the very low levels detected during our analysis are not a public health risk and the juice products are safe for consumption.
    Where can I go to get more information?
    FDA: Apple Juice is Safe to Drink