The new recommendations set at 10 parts per billion, (the same amount the Environmental Protection Agency allows in drinking water), came as a result of consumer groups pressuring the FDA to investigate the amount of arsenic contained in apple juice. The Dr. Oz show had raised public concern by testing five brands of juice and found some contained levels between 11-36 parts per billion. Consumer groups, released a study that analyzed 88 samples of apple juice and found that 10% of samples had higher arsenic levels that 10 parts per billion.
There are two types of arsenic: inorganic and organic. Inorganic arsenic has been classified as a human carcinogen by the EPA. The FDA describes organic, or naturally-occurring arsenic as “essentially harmless.”
“This chemical element is found in the Earth’s crust,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, wrote on the government agency’s blog. “It’s everywhere in the environment and can be found in water, air and soil, in both organic and inorganic forms. Human activities also can introduce arsenic into the environment.”
“Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the environment and may be found in the air, soil and water. It is commonly found in harmless, trace amounts in many crops and naturally sourced foods. Humans have been exposed to it for thousands of years.”
Long-term exposure to arsenic, which is odorless and tasteless, has been linked to cancer of the bladder, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver and prostate, according to the EPA. Scientists also know that arsenic can affect the nervous system, causing headaches, numbness and tremors, and can damage your blood vessels. There is also some evidence that frequent exposure could lower children’s IQ levels, the CDC says.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies under 6 months of age not drink any type of juice, and that children 1 to 6 years old should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces a day.
The FDA is accepting public comments on their proposal for 60 days before these recommendations can be implemented. The proposal can be accessed here.