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Arsenic in Apple Juice: The Shocking Truth

Arsenic and apple juice

Johnny Appleseed? More like Johnny Arsenicseed. According to MSNBC, a new report from Consumer Reports confirms what Oprah’s buddy Dr. Oz has been saying for months — that many brands of apple juice have dangerously high levels of arsenic in them. Where is the arsenic coming from? How dangerous is it? What should you do to protect your family’s health? Click through for the full run-down.


Why is there arsenic in apple juice?

There is some organic arsenic in apple juice which is natural for fruit — this organic arsenic is part of the reason the FDA initially said that Dr. Oz was mistaken in his concerns. As it turns out, though, the evidence is that there are high levels of inorganic arsenic in the samples tested by Consumer Reports. This inorganic arsenic likely comes from pesticides that are illegal in the US, but legal in other countries.

How dangerous is it?

Several of the samples by Consumer Reports tested exceeded 10 parts per billion, which is the FDA’s limit for drinking water. That’s not a level that will put your children at immediate risk, but it is the sort of thing that can have a cumulative effect, and could put their health at risk down the line, especially from cancer.


What should you do?
One way to reduce risk would be to buy apple juice that states on the label that it comes from the US or EU, where you can be relatively more confident that the apples are being grown in a fairly safe manner. Also, while “organic” is a seriously imperfect term, juices labeled “organic” are probably less likely to be made from apples using those pesticides. However, maybe now is a good time to consider giving up apple juice altogether. Compare the nutritional value of a glass of apple juice and a glass of coke. While the apple juice fares better in terms of nutrients, the Coke actually has fewer calories. So even when it’s arsenic-free, apple juice is probably better thought of something enjoyed only occasionally, like a dessert.

Image Source: Dmitry Kichenko

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