Next time you serve juice to your toddler at snack time or pack it in a school lunch box, you might want to make it safer by diluting it with some water.
Brand new evidence by a Consumer Reports study suggests that a potential danger exists in that innocent-looking juice your family guzzles down by the quart each day. The study by Consumer Reports found higher levels of arsenic and lead in juice than is allowed in drinking water. We all know that juice is not water, but moms across the nation know that kids often crave LOTS of apple juice–polishing off a juice box quickly as if it was water. (The fact so many kids prefer sugary juice over water is another health matter.)
Here are the arsenic and lead stats from the CR study of 88 juice (apple and grape) samples compared to bottled water standards:
• 10 percent of the juice samples had arsenic levels above the federal bottled water standard of 10 parts per billion.
• 25 percent of samples contained lead at levels above the FDA limit for bottled water of 5 parts per billion.
• The exact levels of arsenic and lead in specific brands is given below.
According to Consumer Reports:
The tests of 88 samples of apple juice and grape juice purchased in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut by Consumer Reports staffers found that 10 percent of those samples had total arsenic levels exceeding federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb) and 25 percent had lead levels higher than the 5 ppb limit for bottled water set by the Food and Drug Administration.
The health risk due to exposure of arsenic and lead is a health issue with several variables including the amount consumed, the size of the consumer (child vs. adult), and the long term effects. The exposure to toxic arsenic is not an immediate acute health issue, but the exposure long term may produce health problems later in life including cancer according to the interview with Dr. Oz on TODAY.com. Most of the arsenic detected in the CR study was carcinogenic inorganic arsenic.
If the FDA says the juice is safe, isn't it safe?
First, consider the fact the FDA tests the water and juice safety levels using an adult as the consumer. The standard for drinking water is based on a 70 kilogram person drinking two liters of water a day. The size toddler consuming water or juice is dramatically different than an adult. Plus, the amount of arsenic that is safe to consume in water is LOWER than allowed in juice. Combine that with the fact the threshold is determined using consumption by an ADULT weighing about 155 pounds (70 kg). Apple juice is a common drink given to toddlers weighing only 20 pounds–and even less.
The FDA has developed a safety guideline for juice that allows much more arsenic in a glass of apple juice than in a glass of water. Why? Because the FDA takes into account more water is consumed per day than juice. Ok. That may be true in theory. But consider how much juice is really consumed at home and consider the fact the amount of juice relative to the size of a toddler is not the same as the amount of juice compared to an adult. The recommended daily amount of juice recommended by pediatricans is far lower that what is consumed at many homes. (See the recommendation below.) Unless you put a lock on the fridge door, many kids keep going back to get more and more juice.
The FDA safety guidelines for juice vs. water:
The FDA's limit for arsenic in water: 10 parts per billion
The FDA's limit for arsenic in apple juice is: 23 parts per billion
What parents can do
Since the juice companies are not lowering the amount of arsenic in your juice to the levels mandated for water, Dr. Oz and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest diluting the apple juice before serving it. According to a segment with Dr. Oz on TODAY.com:
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggested diluting and limiting consumption to four to six ounces per day for children under the age of 6, no more than 8 to 12 ounces for older kids as well.
You also might consider mixing juices with orange juice.
How do juices compare?
According to CBS News, here are the results for 10 popular apple and grape juices in the study:
America's Choice 100% Apple Juice
- Lead content: 0.5 ppb - 5.6 ppb
Gold Emblem Apple/Grape Juice (CVS)
- Lead content (apple): 2.9 ppb - 5.6 ppb
- Lead content (grape): 6.5 ppb - 8.6 ppb
Gerber 100% Apple Juice
- Lead content: 3.4 ppb - 13.6 ppb
Great Value 100% Apple Juice
- Arsenic content: 10.1 ppb - 13.9 ppb
- Lead content: 3.7 ppb - 5.1 ppb
Minute Maid 100% Apple Juice
- Lead content: 4.2 ppb - 6.5 ppb
Mott's Original 100% Apple Juice
- Arsenic content: 4.0 ppb - 10.2 ppb
Seneca (Apple & Eve) 100% Apple Juice
- Arsenic content: 5.0 ppb - 10.5 ppb
Seneca 100% Apple Juice Frozen Concentrate
- Lead content: 0.9 ppb - 5.5 ppb
Walgreens 100% Apple/Grape Juice
- Lead content (apple): 2.3 ppb - 6.9 ppb
- Lead content (grape): 10.1 ppb - 15.1 ppb
- Arsenic content (grape): 9.7 ppb - 24.7 ppb
Welch's 100% Grape Juice
- Arsenic content: 7.1 ppb - 12.4 ppb
- Lead content: 3.5 ppb - 9.2 ppb
For more information:
- High levels of arsenic found in fruit juice - TODAY Health - TODAY.com
- Consumer Reports tests juices for arsenic and lead
- Consumer Reports finds high arsenic levels in juice: Was Dr. Oz right? - HealthPop - CBS News
- How Safe is that Arsenic in Your Apple Juice? | BlogHer
- Momathon Blog: How safe is that arsenic in your apple juice?