Another day, another report that says something we thought was safe might not be. This time it's apple juice. Earlier this week "The Dr. Oz Show" revealed an investigative report that found unsafe levels of arsenic in apple juice tested at one independent laboratory.
Dr. Oz isn't the first to be concerned about this issue. MNN's family blogger Jenn discussed the issue of arsenic in apple juice more than a year ago when a Florida newspaper did an independent investigation and found "that many brands contain levels of arsenic that have raised concerns for health experts and parents."
We all know that a highly concentrated amount of arsenic ingested at once can be fatal, but what can smaller doses ingested over a lifetime do? According to Jenn, "arsenic has been linked to cancer when consumed at high doses in drinking water over a lifetime, and has been linked at lower dosages to diabetes, organ damage and hormone system changes."
If arsenic is in the juice we're giving our family, obviously we should be concerned. The Food and Drug Administration, however, is saying that we shouldn't be concerned about the specific information in Dr. Oz's findings, though, because he got it wrong. The results from his show's tests were based on the total arsenic found in juice, not just the bad kind of arsenic. I didn't know there was a good kind. Did you?
Maybe calling it the good kind of arsenic is misleading, but there are two kinds of arsenic, and one is believed to be less harmful than the other. Natural arsenic is found in everything from water to air to apples, and is referred to as "organic arsenic." The FDA says organic arsenic is not harmful. Arsenic that's added from chemicals like pesticides is not natural and is referred to as "inorganic arsenic." High levels of it can be harmful, even fatal.
The FDA and juice companies say that "The Dr. Oz Show" findings are based on the total level of arsenic found in apple juice — both organic and inorganic arsenic, According to ABC News, the FDA sent the show a letter days before it aired the apple juice segment, saying that airing the findings would be "irresponsible" and "misleading."
In addition, the show didn't do much testing. Show producers sent all the apple juice to one lab that did one round of testing. The FDA and Nestle/Gerber each did their own testing and found much lower levels of arsenic than the findings of "The Dr. Oz Show."
Consumers are left with conflicting information. Dr. Oz says apple juice is harmful. The FDA says apple juice is perfectly safe. Who are you going to believe?
Here's my take. I never believe that something is safe just because the FDA says it is. I know that they take a "safe until proven unsafe" stance, but many of the substances they allow are questionable. When the FDA says there is no cause for concern, I'm not automatically ready to believe it.
But, I find "The Dr. Oz Show" results questionable, too. I think the lab should have tested for the two different kinds of arsenic and taken that into consideration. I think the testing should have been more thorough and been done through several independent labs, not just one.
What am I going to do? My boys are at an age when I don't buy them too much apple juice. When I do buy apple juice, I'm going to be sure to spend the extra money for organic apple juice made from a concentrate that came from the United States. That should eliminate the inorganic arsenic that comes from chemical pesticides. And, I'm not going to freak out about all the juice my boys have consumed in the past, especially when they were little.
Other than that, I'll follow this story as best as I can, and if any conclusive evidence one way or the other comes to light, I'll let you know about it.
What is your take on arsenic in apple juice?