Studies Find Arsenic in Apple Juice


Recent independent product safety tests commissioned by the the New York consumer advocacy group Empire State Consumer Project showed the level of arsenic in a sample of Mott’s brand apple juice to be more than five times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limit for safe drinking water.

Arsenic, a naturally occurring element, has been used for centuries as a poison to kill animal pests — and humans. Many of the most notorious murderers in history, including the infamous Borgia family, used arsenic as a weapon of choice. Besides being poisonous to humans at high doses, arsenic is a known carcinogen. Chronic exposure to sub-poisonous levels of arsenic has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer, lung cancer and liver cancer. Arsenic has also been implicated as a developmental toxin; several animal studies have shown in-utero exposure to arsenic can increase the risk of birth defects in mammals.

As a natural substance, arsenic can be found naturally at very low levels in soil, plants and drinking water, and most people in the world are routinely exposed to minute amounts of this naturally-occurring arsenic without serious consequences. However, industrial pollution and repeated agricultural use of animal poisons and pesticides containing arsenic can cause water and soil to become contaminated with levels of arsenic well above the natural norm.

The EPA limits arsenic in drinking water to 10 parts per billion; the Empire State Consumer Project tests revealed one sample of Mott’s juice to contain 55 parts per billion of arsenic — well above the EPA’s “safe” level for water.

Edible plants grown in soil that has been previously contaminated with arsenic can absorb unusually high levels of the element. Food crops may also become contaminated with high levels of arsenic when directly sprayed with certain chemical pesticides. Arsenic contamination of fruits and vegetables is a particular problem in China, where many toxic pesticides that have been banned in the United States and Europe for environmental or public health reasons are still in common use.

And many U.S. distributors of apple sauce and apple juice — including some organic brands and many brands that are marketed directly to children — source some or all of their apples from Chinese orchards. Set to harvest 33 million tons of apples this year, China is the world’s largest apple producer and controls an estimated 80% of the world’s apple export market.


This is, unfortunately, not the first time unsafe levels of arsenic have been found in apple juice from popular U.S. brands. In March of this year, Florida’s St. Petersburg times published an exposť that revealed potentially unsafe levels of arsenic in more than a quarter of juice samples tested. Contaminated varieties included not only the same Mott’s brand tested by Empire State Consumer Project, but also Walmart brand apple juice, Target’s Market Pantry brand, Minute Maid juice, and Apple & Eve Organic.

Popular juice brands have also been found in the past to be contaminated with potentially unsafe levels of lead. Last summer, the Environmental Law Foundation commissioned testing that found levels of lead deemed potentially unsafe by California law in 125 out of 146 kids’ juice and snack products tested. Lead-contaminated juice samples from that study included organic grape juice from 365 Organic and Trader Joe’s.

In the wake of their findings, the Empire State Consumer Project has partnered with the non-profit food safety and sustainability organization Food and Water Watch in a campaign to pressure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to close a legal loophole and set a formal legal limit on the amount of arsenic allowed in juice. Currently, though the EPA regulates the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water, there are no such legal restrictions in the U.S. that apply to fruit juice.

But with a recent Republican agricultural appropriations bill, already passed by the House but still awaiting approval from the Senate, set to to drastically slash the FDA’s budget by $87 million, the FDA might not have the resources next year to enforce such a regulation even if it were implemented.

Related Care2 Posts:

U.S. House Debates Food Safety Funding Cuts

Honey Laundering May Mask Dangerous Contaminants

Food Safety: Sure There’s a Bill, But Will It Be Enforced?



Photo of apple juice by Metoc, from Wikimedia Commons. Used under Creative Commons license. Photo of apple varieties by USDA, public domain.


William C
William Cabout a year ago


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Joshua Bigley
Joshua Bigley5 years ago

why the hell i liv ein china i dont know. nothing is safe. everything i eat is contaminated. Why the hell are we importing apples form china when we have the finest aspples in the world in america--in new york where i am from. In oregon, washington, romney and he will make it worse. he will pass a law forbidding anyone anywhere to buy americna products and he will shut down all american businesses exporting al jobs overseas. He hates america that much. All the ruling elite do. Why pay an american a fair wage and ask him to participate in democracy when you can have slaves in china make you rich and you can kill democracy --power of the people--a democracy would bring jobs home--he doesnt want that. better to dicate policy as they do. Obama has become a warmongering hawk schill no different than romeny on foreign policy--tho i do think obama would like to bring jobs home--but the corporataocray and house republicans wil not let him--obama is just one man against a legion of fools and american haters, human haters. profit is everything.

China. Romney, teabaggers, Kochs, necons, nazis and china are killing the planet and killing you.

Voula Hatz
Voula Hatz5 years ago

Thank you for the article

Mary Beth M.
MaryBeth M6 years ago

If we knew half of what we consumed on a daily basis we would we stop eating and drinking altogether. There has to be better regulation of toxins/pesticides/fertilizers, etc along with monitoring and enforcement by the powers set in place that claim to insure public safety. This can only happen when they not under the influence of big business.

Dione H.
Dione H.6 years ago

Until we all STOP buying products that hurt all of us (especially are kids) nothing will change. We have to stop letting the drug companies and our government dictate our foods and vitamins and minerals. We are all trying to get healthier and the government and the drug companies are trying to take healthy choices away from us.
Let's stand together for our health on every issue!!!!

Jessica Sobolewski
Jessica S6 years ago

Obviously this is a government conspiracy as are so many unexplained coincidences. The government felt that no one would ever expose the truth about contaminants in apple juice, and therefore let the juicing industry carry this on for so long.
Imagine this: For decades we have been consuming countless gallons of processed juices, not just apple. Over time, people die with know apparent cause, or for some unexplained reason. Is there no link to what the government controls to the direct correlation with how things happen?

It is called POPULATION CONTROL! It's been going on for hundred's of years. And each time, the government mandated branch, FDA, EPA, etc seem to let these "small details" slip through the cracks.

It takes just one person to conduct an educated and valid experiment to expose the truth.
Will society listen? Probably not. Will we continue to consume the product? Probably will.
So it is up to us to get the government to do right by Americans!!!
Don't let America rob us of our health! We can do the best we can to take care of our bodies, but if chemicals are being added and not monitored, and we are not informed- who takes the blame!!!???

Amanda M.
Amanda McCormick6 years ago

With my daughter, her pediatrician and my WIC nurse tell me to not give her more than 4 ounces of juice a day. If I give her more than that, then do 1 part juice to 2 parts water. Perhaps, this is because of the levels or arsenic found in juice?

Abbe A.
Azaima A6 years ago