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Can You Swallow a Bit of Arsenic in Your Apple Juice?

Can You Swallow a Bit of Arsenic in Your Apple Juice?

About 20 years ago the U.S. apple growing industry was brought to its knees by a scare concerning Alar, a carcinogenic chemical sprayed on apples to make them more cosmetically appealing. Consumers were outraged, and health conscious Americans stopped buying apples and starting demanding more stringent health standards for their produce. Alar is now prohibited, and while conventional apples are still sprayed with questionable pesticides and such, one could purchase organic apples and feel relatively comforted by the inherent wholesomeness of the fruit.

However, whether you consume conventional or organic apple products, you just might be getting more than you bargained for when it comes to arsenic levels. Since arsenic, a trace metalloid that is poisonous to living things, is present naturally in the environment, lots of foods, from rice to chicken, include trace levels of the substance.

In the United States, the maximum allowed concentration in drinking water is 10 ppb and 5 ppb for bottled water, however there is no federal standard for food or drink (other than water). This gets us onto the subject of apple juice and how the Food and Drug Administration has now proposed a 10 parts-per-billion threshold for levels of inorganic arsenic in apple juice (the same standard for drinking water). It should be noted that the past use of arsenic-containing pesticides has also led to concentrations of arsenic in soils. That said, it is important to distinguish between organic arsenic, which occurs in nature and passes quickly through the body, and inorganic arsenic, the carcinogenic form.

A few months back a similar concern was voiced around arsenic levels in rice, which are considerably high with white rice. It is clear that the levels of inorganic arsenic (meaning parts of the metalloid left over in the soil from pesticide use) in rice and rice products are high, and that much of the population, including young children, babies and pregnant women should limit their intake of rice and rice products such as cereals, rice cakes and rice beverages.

And it seems the issue of arsenic contamination with apple juice is considerably less severe than is the case with rice, as the FDA has been monitoring arsenic levels in apple juice for two decades found that 100% of the samples fell below 10ppb for inorganic arsenic. Still, many are left uneasy with the idea of any arsenic (whether organic or inorganic) in their food supply.

Do you feel that the FDA should mandate strict standards on arsenic in the food supply, or do you feel this is much ado about nothing? Thoughts?

Read more: Blogs, Diet & Nutrition, Drinks, Eating for Health, Family, Following Food, Food, Health, Healthy Schools, News & Issues, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

85 comments

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10:14PM PDT on Aug 5, 2013

Arsenic is a naturally occuring substance in all soils. It is caused by thousands of years of organic matter decay, everything contains some minute trace of it. It is carried, suspended in water as well as ground water. The soil structure determines the amount. It has nothing to do with growing practices.

3:13AM PDT on Jul 29, 2013

Greed and negligence is poisoning our planet. Best to grow what you eat and boycott ALL these careless suppliers and organisations. Go back to basics.

4:36AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

It seems we're only safe nowadays if we grow and eat our own...

6:13PM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

This is very concerning. We can't let our family take chances. I have started juicing years back and have found out that it is just not healthy to juice on your own but eventually turns out to be more economical especially if you can find a good deal for your juicer (better juicer, more juice). This is what I use http://goo.gl/eRqh4o

1:47PM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

information right out of a B Japanese movie.....that which does not kill me makes me stronger.....

3:58PM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

Think I'll go on hunger strike like the 30,000 California prisoners!!

3:03PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

There's a bit of arsenic in everything we eat. One needs to be careful of rice - due to the fertilizers building up over time where it is grown - arsenic is heavily absorbed by the plant. Search for ways to clean - some recommend 'rinsing' the rice well before putting in the hot water to cook!

What I don't really get is - Dr. Oz took a media bashing about his show reporting the arsenic in apple juice. Turns our Dr. Oz WAS RIGHT. So now all are on the band wagon about arsenic in apple juice when Dr. Oz was right all along. The bashers owe Dr. Oz an apology!

1:52AM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

I say we're doomed. We have contaminated our planet and it doesn't look like there's an end in sight ! With all those sick greedy morons running the big corporations, and thus the world, I'm really worried for future generations. I've just read a report on "Being Liberal" that the top 1% of America owns 50% of the country's wealth. And who are in this 1%?

7:18AM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

ty

10:51PM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Thank you :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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