Well over a year ago I wrote about data that showed surprisingly high levels of lead in commercially available juice, and now there’s even more reason for concern.
Consumer Reports conducted an investigation that will be published in their January issue exploring the amount of arsenic in commercially available juice. The study found distressing levels of inorganic arsenic in virtually all apple juices sold in the U.S. Whether the apples were grown in the U.S. and even if the apples used were grown without pesticides, the apple juice was tainted.
Arsenic is found naturally in apple seeds and that form of arsenic is not worrisome in the levels that juicing whole apples would produce. Arsenic is also found in apples because of pesticides used over 50 years ago that seeped into the soil and don’t degrade much over time. That source of arsenic is absorbed into the apples through the growth process and is inorganic arsenic.
The FDA has set a limit of up to 23 ppb as the acceptable amount of inorganic arsenic, but Consumer Reports often found levels of 56 ppb or higher in the apple juices tested. The FDA tests samples of apple juice regularly too. Why the FDA findings differ so much from the Consumer Reports data is not clear.
Eating apples, unlike juicing them, is not associated with this increased exposure. Remember it takes many apples to make a cup of juice and most children can’t consume enough flesh fruit to reach the worrisome level.
Chronic heavy metal inorganic arsenic exposure can increase the risk of cancer, liver and nervous system problems over time.
Juice is not a necessary food. Indeed juice is more like soda pop in that it is nearly pure sugar than the flesh apple is it derived from. Juice drinking is providing empty calories with little or no nutritional benefit. With the obesity epidemic and now heavy metals found in juice, my advice is to skip the juice aisle all together and drink milk and water instead.