In 2011, “The Dr. Oz Show” did an investigation into apple juice and concluded that the levels of arsenic found in apple juice were unsafe. The Food and Drug Administration said Dr. Oz’s findings were flawed because not enough samples were tested and the findings were based on the total arsenic found in juice. It didn’t separate organic arsenic, which is found in nature, from inorganic arsenic, which comes from things like pesticides.

Still, Dr. Oz and consumers spoke out loudly enough to get the FDA to look into it, and the government organization announced today that it has proposed standards that would reduce the acceptable amount of arsenic found in apple juice. The acceptable limit will now be the same as what is allowed in water – 10 parts per billion.

That standard specifically has to do with the inorganic arsenic found in apple juice. Tests done by the FDA found that 95 percent of apple juices sampled already met or exceeded the standard that is to be put in place, but now all apple juice will have to meet the standard. Those that don’t could be removed from the market and the companies that produce them could face legal action.

This is fine. Consumers spoke up. The FDA responded. They’re going to get a lot of good press for listening to consumers and doing something about their concerns. But really, how much of a risk was it for the FDA to set a new standard for an industry when 95 percent of that industry already met the standard?

It would be really impressive if the FDA (and the USDA) would take the risk of requiring that juices that contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) be labeled as such. As I understand it, there is no 100 percent apple juice (yet) that contains GMOs, but there are plenty of juice drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup that most likely contain GMOs. Setting a standard that said those drinks need to be labeled because consumers demand it — somewhere around 90 percent of consumers say they want GMOs labeled — would really be impressive.

For now, I’ll give the FDA a little praise for setting these apple juice standards, but I’ll reserve the big applause for when they get behind GMO labeling.

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