As I was driving into work this morning, I was listening to an interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz on the local radio. I arrived in my parking deck just in time to hear him mention arsenic and apple juice in the same sentence. I was intrigued but couldn't wait around to hear the interview in its entirety, so I decided to investigate his claim myself. Here's what I found out:
For an episode airing today, Dr. Oz decided to test five major-label brands of apple juice for their arsenic content. What he found were that, of 33 samples taken, 10 showed arsenic levels above those deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and one sample was higher than the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) guidelines.
The FDA is crying foul on his findings, however. In a statement released yesterday, the organization said that while there are some levels of arsenic in apple juice, it's important to distinguish the difference between organic and inorganic arsenic. Organic arsenic, hence the name, is naturally occurring in the environment and can be found in many foods. The FDA stresses that this type of arsenic won't do any harm to you or your family. Inorganic arsenic, on the other hand, can prove deadly if ingested in large quantities. It maintains that if Dr. Oz did further testing of the juices, he would find that the majority of the arsenic is organic.
The FDA goes on to point out that the guidelines from the EPA and the FDA are for drinking water, not for juice. It claims that because we drink more water, the guidelines are stricter, and they should not be used in testing for carcinogens and toxins in juices or other foods. According to the FDA's findings of testing done throughout the years, there has never been any evidence that drinking apple juice is unsafe.
It's a scary thought that we could be giving our children juice with known toxins in it, but I find myself tending to aGREe with the FDA on this one. I think it's important that Dr. Oz and his team do a little bit more testing to differentiate between the two types of arsenic to see where the levels fall then. The FDA has posted a lot of information on its Web site, which you can find here. For his part, Dr. Oz has also posted a link to the story, as well as links to the response from juice companies and the statement from the FDA on his Web site, found here.