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Testing Finds Arsenic in Apple Juice
Groups Call on FDA to hold juice to same minimum standard as drinking water, better monitor imports from countries with serious food safety problems like China
WASHINGTON - July 21 - Today, consumer advocacy organizations Empire State Consumer Project and Food & Water Watch called on the Food and Drug Administration to take long overdue action on contamination of apple juice with heavy metals such as arsenic. The groups sent a letter to the agency that contained new data from testing commissioned by the Empire State Consumer Project, which revealed levels of arsenic contamination in one juice sample that was more than five times higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency would allow in drinking water.
The group arranged for testing of different brands of apple juice and apple sauce, and one sample of Mott’s Apple Juice registered 55 parts per billion of arsenic. The EPA’s tolerance level for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion, while the FDA does not have a tolerance level for juice.
“This is not the first time high levels of arsenic have been found in apple juice,” said Judy Braiman, Executive Director of the Empire State Consumer Project. “It is past time for the FDA to set a limit on a toxic substance like arsenic with long term health effects in the juice that kids drink.”
Two-thirds of apple juice that Americans consume—more than 400 million gallons annually—comes from China. This new data on apple juice comes on the heels of a report by Food & Water Watch that detailed China’s terrible safety record for food shipped to the United States.
The new report A Decade of Dangerous Food Imports from China, released last month by Food & Water Watch, analyzes how many common foods (many of which children eat on a daily basis, including apple juice, candy, and canned fruit) come from China. China’s food exports to the U.S. have tripled over the past decade to nearly 4 billion pounds of food in 2010, worth nearly $5 billion. The FDA prevented over 9,000 unsafe products from entering the country between 2006 and 2010, but with a less than 2 percent inspection rate on imported food, countless other unsafe products undoubtedly entered the U.S. food system, the group warns.
“Our next safety scare could come compliments of China,” says Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter. “Given how pervasive poorly regulated Chinese food exports are in our food supply, the FDA has a responsibility to focus its attention on imported foods, especially those that are most often eaten by children. Setting a limit for arsenic in apple juice would be a good place to start.”
The letter Empire State Consumer Project and Food & Water Watch sent to the FDA has been published here, and the lab report outlining the heavy metals tested for in several brands of apple juice, can be found here.
The purpose of the Empire State Consumer Project is to reduce the use of pesticides and other chemicals toxic to human and environmental health and well-being with: public advocacy for administrative regulatory actions, dissemination of scientifically based educational information to consumers and industry and product testing and reporting.