By now you’ve probably heard of the highly controversial Dr. Oz show in which he claimed there are high levels of arsenic in store bought apple juice. In case you didn’t, my colleague Stephanie Precourt first broke the news about the apple juice controversy earlier in the week.
This show certainly caused some public debate, including the FDA to take a firm stance disputing Dr. Oz’s claims.
But is it possible that besides being a big ratings draw, the idea that apple juice (or any other food or beverage) containing harmful ingredients might have some truth to it?
The FDA says absolutely not. On their website, they staunchly deny any idea that apple juice is unsafe:
“There is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices. And FDA has been testing them for years.”
FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao said in the Washington Post, “We’re concerned that people are going to start thinking their juice is unsafe when that’s not case.”
The FDA claims that Dr. Oz performed inaccurate tests by including naturally occurring arsenic, organic arsenic in the same results with inorganic arsenic which does have harmful effects. According to the FDA, organic arsenic is essentially harmless and the inorganic kind can be harmful at high and long-term levels of exposure. That is not very different from what Dr. Oz stated. He said that long term exposure may have harmful effects. It looks like the FDA wanted him to only test the organic type of arsenic which is found in water, air, food, and soil in organic and inorganic forms.
Dr. Oz says to look at exactly where we import our apples from. While the U.S. maintains highs standards for insecticides, other countries do not, he says. He believes we should find out where these juice companies buy their apples and test those apples for harmful insecticides:
There has been a huge shift in where our apples come from. Sixty percent of apples in America come from overseas. We have been so careful to take the arsenic out of our water and our pesticides so our kids and family can’t have it, but that is not true overseas.
The FDA says their own tests show much lower arsenic levels and they feel that Oz is just trying to “scare moms”.
No matter what side you fall on in this debate, it is certainly bringing a vital issue to the forefront: We should always be on the lookout for potential health risks in our food supply.
There are a lot of foods that the FDA says are perfectly fine that many of us do not feel are good for our kids. Think trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and salt. And let’s not forget how much of today’s meat supply is pumped with hormones and antibiotics.
None of us should put the FDA’s findings over our own judgement. It’s possible that the debate caused by the show will help moms and dads become more aware of what goes into the big company products, and where they purchase their raw products. Did Dr. Oz use apple juice to get ratings? More than likely. Did it scare most moms? I doubt it.
The truth of what is actually in our foods, I’m sure, is much more scarier.
More On Apple Juice: NY Senator Calls For Regulation Of Apple Juice Concentrate From China