Arsenic in Apple Juice: What Should I Do?

By Kati Mora, RD for

If you are one of the many parents now second guessing your decision to pack a juice box in your child’s lunch tomorrow, you are not alone. In a recent episode of the Dr. Oz Show, national health guru Dr. Mehmet Oz claimed that not only does apple juice contain arsenic, but levels much higher than what is deemed safe for our drinking water.

According to an independent study conducted on behalf of the Dr. Oz Show, ten of the three dozen apple juices sampled were found to have arsenic levels higher than the amount allowed in drinking water. Of these, Gerber, Juicy Juice, and Mott’s were some of the highest with 36 parts per billion, 22 parts per billion, and 16 parts per billion reported, respectively.

Despite this information the FDA wants the public to feel assured that drinking apple juice is still safe. In fact, the FDA claims there is no public health risk associated with drinking apple juice and that they have been performing safety checks for years to ensure that what we drink is indeed safe.

A safety level for arsenic has not been determined for juices and, although this may seem alarming, the FDA states that the type of arsenic primarily found in juices is organic arsenic, an essentially harmless form. In the case of water, the primary source is inorganic arsenic which, is the form typically considered to negatively impact health when consumed in large quantities.

Although Dr. Oz and the FDA have opposing views on whether apple juice is indeed safe to drink in its current state over an extended period of time, both do agree that it’s perfectly fine to drink your favorite brand of apple juice. This may seem slightly contradictory, but arsenic accumulation doesn’t happen immediately.

Before you toss that new jug of apple juice, be sure to consider the following:

One Study is Never Enough

Although this information may alerted you to the world of food safety, don’t let it be the only study you use to build a case against apple juice. The FDA really has been testing juices for a long time and that shouldn’t be discounted with just a few studies.

Using Common Sense is Important

The only sure thing in nutrition science is that there never really is a sure thing! Our knowledge and understanding of nutrition is constantly evolving and this can be down-right confusing. Use common sense when reviewing new health claims or shocking study results. By keeping a level head you can bypass mass food panic if you’ll take the time to identify which truths lie behind the claims. Often a little bit of truth exists on both sides of the story and common sense may be your best tool in properly identifying where that truth exists.

Thinking In Extremes Can Also Help

When common sense still leaves you questioning which side of a nutritional argument you land on, thinking in extremes may also help you identify the truth behind each claim.

  • Extreme scenario #1: The FDA is correct and the arsenic levels in apple juice are perfectly safe for long-term consumption.
  • Extreme scenario #2: Dr. Oz is correct and the arsenic levels in apple juice are higher than we knew.
  • Bottom line: “Although the FDA frequently tests apple juice and it is likely safe for long-term consumption, perhaps I should cut back on the amount of apple juice I provide to my kids on a daily basis.” By thinking in extremes, you can actually come to a pretty reasonable response.

Maybe We Should Rethink Our Drink

Whether this study is accurate or not, it provides us with the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate the frequency in which we provide our children juice. Although most children love juice, it’s not really something they should be getting more than once or twice a day. Juice is high in sugar, low in fiber, and full of calories that children could consume elsewhere. Instead, offer your children water frequently throughout the day to keep them hydrated and incorporate whole fruits instead of fruit juice when you can. Not only will this allow your child to get more of their calories from nutritionally dense foods, but will also promote a varied diet that can help your child eat well for a lifetime.

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JOSE HONRADO1 years ago

Choose a fresh apple over apply juice.

Kathy H.
Kathy H.3 years ago

There's not arsenic in the seeds, it's cyanide...... What kind of certified dietician doesn't know that? And a little seed pulp has all kinds of good fruit oils to help protect those that ingest the seeds so we, and the horses and the bears can poop most of the seeds out and plant more little apple trees.

The cyanide of concern is from Chinese apples that are grown on very questionable soils with questionable farming practices....I'm sure not going to drink something that's squished in china that they say is apple dogs almost died from eating "wholesome American made" kibble that contained poison that they say was rice.... And we sure didn't know the crap they listed as brown rice was swill from china...

. Why are gerber and motts buying apples or some sort of "concentrate" from china...that because its yellow and smells sweet, we'll assume is apple juice concentrate? If we all had to really grow our own apples and then juice them.. We'd treasure the commodity and wouldn't treat it like the sugar water crap that w've come to know.....

K s Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

iii q.
g d c.4 years ago

How much would a person have to drink for it to be fatal? Does anyone drink that much?

Myron Scott
Myron Scott4 years ago

Christa's point about seeds in the juicing process makes logical sense to me and might be a reason to juice (post-seed removal) at home. It also would be a reason eating apples rather than drinking apple juice is healthier (beyond the density issue). If the alleged amount of arsenic cannot be fully accounted for by juiced seeds, however, wouldn't that mean that unjuiced apples also would contain arsenic?

Lorna P.
Lorna Paisley4 years ago

There has always been arsenic in seeds and I thought a tiny bit was good for you as it could kill bad cells.
However, if the ppm are getting dangerously high, then I would beware. And I would heed the part about apples from China. You should know by now they don't care what they have in their food.
Ask another chemist, but to say "organic arsenic", is a joke in my opinion. I am even leery of organic and inorganic compounds with arsenic in them.

Lynn C.
Lynn c.4 years ago

Many thanks to Dr. Oz! At least he got the message out before he was 'threatened', and had to backpedal. EWG has had apples on the most polluted lists for a long time. I just don't drink the stuff that comes in plastic bottles, no matter what the 'flavor'.

I agree with all here who say make your own!

Christa Leduc
Christa Leduc4 years ago

Apple seeds do naturally contain arsenic, they put the whole apple seeds and all into the machine, if you could see how things are produced you would not eat or drink them.
Buy organic apples, take out the seeds and make your own juice or better still drink water. Do you get your 8 glasses (64 ounces) of water daily?
I agree 100% with Linda Chambre's comments.

Carole P.
Carole P.4 years ago


Debbie L.
Debbie Lim4 years ago

FDA=bad people! You never know when they're lying. They're probably not drinking the apple juice because they know the truth! I'm just thinking to the extreme.... don't mind me.