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Welchs Motts and Gerber Accused of Serving Up Arsenic in Apple and Grape Juices

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The only thing more scary than finding out grape and apple juices contains a chunk of arsenic may be discovering the FDA isn't monitoring the drinks for that toxin or lead content. Bottled water, it's got regulations. Gerber, Welch's, Mott's, Minute Maid and Walmart juice brands are on the hot seat. The FDA may be soon if it doesn't do more than 'consider' setting a standard as parents are warned to limit juices for kids in health concerns.
The current hooplah's been started by Consumer Reports and its study of juices ingested in large part by kids but also adults. Apple and grape juice are supposed to be healthy. That's what we're taught anyway. No one said drink them for their poisonous benefits.
It was actually Dr. Oz who started it all -- juicing up the juice controversy.
The famous Doctor Mehmet Oz announced arsenic levels of apple juice just might be unhealthy. He kind of cited an investigation performed by the Dr Oz show. The show's test results indicated apple juice brands like Juicy Juice may contain16 ppb of arsenic and brands like Gerber containing 36 ppb -- the Gerber results almost four times higher than the allowable 10 ppb (parts per billion) arsenic levels for water consumed.
Of course it's not surprising that in September 2011, the FDA responded by swearing those Doctor Oz juice stats were faulty, that apple juice is indeed safe to drink. And we should all believe the FDA over Dr. Oz because the agency always remains on top of things -- or kind of. That may be debatable. If it serves as any indciator, there is that most recent issue with Snokist brand and its "reworking" of moldy apple sauce in a problem that's apparently been going on for years since 2008 -- nine kids suspicously becoming sick after eating the applesauce for lunch at school.
Things came to a head with Snokist applesauce in early November -- Snokist accused of sterility issues when it serves as manufacturer of fruit products not only for adults, but is a major brand supplied to kids across the nation at schools and roughly 50 million tons of product produced annually. Lots of kids eat applesauce and fruit products. And so do babies. Startlingly, the same manufacturer produces even baby food. Mold's been found at a plant. Four types. The FDA seems to have been kind of, sort of aware of potential or real problems with Snokist for about three years. And Snokist is even a company responsible for serving federal nutrition programs at schools across the nation. Yet it's been allowed to continue operations.
But the FDA responded a bit quicker with Dr Oz's allegations over apple juice, firing off a statement somewhat faster than how the agency typically seems to move. November 29, 2011, the doctor published an FDA e-mail to Oz about apple juice, arsenic and decline for appearance for a November 30 feature that included Consumer Reports. The agency did want to clarify though. The FDA sent all kinds of information. It just didn't want to appear in person to present it. 
Back in September, the FDA insinuation had seemed to be that all was 'a-ok' with juices in the States -- that only trace amounts of organic or inorganic arsenic was present. They even did a supposed study after Dr Oz's allegations. And results recently released from the FDA study seem to paint a different picture that vindicates the good doctor: 5-percent of the 160 samples showing nearly 2.5 times the allowable arsenic levels of water, reportedly as high as 23 ppb.
Here's the agency's claim: The FDA says apple juice contains organic arsenic -- insinuating that what Doctor Oz found was representative of the total amount of arsenic, and inaccurate. Apparently there is no federal arsenic limit for most foods. And there is no federal arsenic limit for juice, which might make sense since the standard doesn't apply to many foods -- except for the fact that arsenic is monitored in other liquid form of liquids consumed by humans, like water.
Arsenic levels are not supposed to exceed 10 parts per billion for bottled and public water. And there's an additional requirement concerning lead content: For lead, the U.S. threshold is 5 ppb. So while bottled water can't exceed certain arsenic and lead levels, it seems grape and apple juices aren't monitored -- and parents might just find that a bit frightening considering how much juice kids actively drink, and are provided under the idea that grape and apple juice promote health.
Consumer Reports studied three forms of packaged juices: ready-to-drink, concentrated juices and juice boxes -- taken from three different manufactured lots. CR tested 88 samples derived from three grape juices and 28 apple juices. And those Consumer Reports statistics in its juice study show ten-percent of those came back with arsenic levels higher than acceptable levels of arsenic for bottled water -- more than the 10 ppb standard for bottled water.
Arsenic levels in apple juice hit levels of 13.9 ppb -- nearly 4 ppb higher than the 10 ppb allowed for bottle water levels of arsenic. If that's bad, the tested grape juice came up even worse -- reflecting almost 2.5 times the acceptable level in bottled water, with a high of at least one sample showing 24.7 ppb. And more was found, like lead.
One-quarter, 25-percent, of tested grape and apple juice samples reflected lead levels above the allowable 5 ppb for bottled water. If you think those brands with boosted arsenic or lead content must be lesser-known, that surely the biggest brands of juices don't rank among those responsible, think again.
The apple juice samples containing higher levels of arsenic than bottled water -- more than 10 ppb -- include brands like Apple & Eve, Great Value distributed by Walmart, and Mott's apple juices. The grape juice brands with higher levels of arsenic above 10 ppb content duplicate some of those above, including Walmart's and the widely-purchased and trusted Welch's grape juice. And if anyone wants to argue those arsenic contents are organic, the study seems to indicate otherwise.
According to Consumer Reports' study, most of the arsenic found in the apple and grape juice samples was inorganic -- prompting the idea the arsenic may arise from tainted soil. Insecticides containing lead or arsenic in the U.S. have been banned but the toxins could still exist, and be finding their way into juices. Apple juice concentrates from countries like China and arsenic-tainted soil could be an issue, with some countries importing the concentrate from there.
It's all interesting that a food or drink touted for cancer-fighting skills and antioxidants seems to contain lead in samples -- since it's still unknown whether in fact lead may cause cancer.
The response from the Juice Products Assn calls juice "safe" for all consumers -- an interesting statement since what the association seems to basing that statement on is simply the fact that the FDA isn't regulating juice. According to the association, juice "adheres to FDA guidelines and juice products sold in the U.S. meet and will continue to proactively meet or exceed the federal standards." There's just kind of one problem surrounding that idea: There are no federal standards concerning arsenic levels in juice, so it seems to be a very empty if not misleading statement.
Basically, since it's not regulated -- and very possibly should be considering study results and the fact that other consumables like water are -- there's apparently no need for worry. Or that's what the industry claims. Of course why would the industry, related associations or juice manufacturers claim otherwise -- since that would simply mean more cost and effort on their part. They're not interested in change. And that's where others are coming in, and sharing a different opinion that says those juices could be dangerous and need regulation: There's call for the FDA to get its guidelines in gear and actually regulate the juice products that pretty much seem to need that aid.
Apparently the FDA's thinking about it -- or considering the concept that setting a standard for arsenic levels in fruit juice just might be an idea. Federal officials are being urged to set maximum arsenic levels for apple and grape juices at 3 ppb, actually below the level set for bottled water. That might be a good idea.
That was back in September that the FDA was considering the concept, while the current time reflects the year now closing. Consumer Reports is urging parents to limit apple juice intake for kids to a maximum 4-6 ounces per day for those under age 6, and none for babies under six months. Perhaps, when the apple juice industry and manufacturers get hit by that little change from consumers, someone will decide to move a little quicker.

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