Writer Andrea Rock takes a closer look into the arsenic debate for Consumer Reports, and does a bang-up job trying to make sense of what the threats may be in Getting the Facts Straight on Arsenic and Apple Juice.
Rock contends that: the FDA’s statement that “inorganic forms of arsenic are the harmful forms, while the organic forms of arsenic are essentially harmless” is oversimplified. The wide range of serious human health risks of inorganic arsenic exposure has been well documented, as it is the form that contaminates drinking water. But there is not sufficient evidence to describe organic arsenic as “harmless.” The educational material provided by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to educate physicians about arsenic’s health effects points out that while the type of organic arsenic found in seafood appears to have low toxicity, other varieties of organic arsenic compounds have been shown in animal studies to produce health effects similar to those caused by inorganic arsenic.
ATSDR’s Arsenic Fact Sheet states: “Almost nothing is known regarding health effects of organic arsenic compounds in humans.”
Further, according to Rock, the FDA said in its recent statement that most arsenic found in juices is of the organic form and therefore is less of a concern. However, scientific research suggests that inorganic arsenic can be found in significant, if not dominant, portions of the total arsenic levels detected in juices:
• A 2009 study by researchers at the University of Arizona looked at total and inorganic arsenic levels in apple and grape juice. The study indicated that of the seven apple juice or cider samples tested, 65 percent or more of the total arsenic present was the inorganic form. For the four grape juice samples, approximately 55 percent or more of the arsenic found was the inorganic form. Most importantly, the amount of inorganic arsenic in several samples of these juices exceeded the 10 ppb federal standard for total arsenic allowed in drinking water.
• A 2008 FDA document states that testing of samples from three lots of pear juice concentrate, which were recalled, showed inorganic arsenic represented from approximately 52 percent to 67 percent of the total arsenic detected.
As in so many cases of common sense and scientific research not necessarily agreeing with the FDA, it’s all rather confusing. If you’re left unsure by how to proceed, read more here: Arsenic in Apple Juice: What Should I Do?