Report: Arsenic in apple and grape juice
November 30th, 2011
06:02 PM ET

Report: Arsenic in apple and grape juice

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

Ten percent of apple juices and grape juices have higher arsenic levels than are allowed in drinking water in the United States, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.

The magazine analyzed 88 samples of fruit juice purchased at stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Several well-known brands, including Walmart, Mott’s, Walgreens and Welch’s, had levels higher than 10 parts per billion of arsenic, the threshold set by the federal government for bottled and tap water.

Twenty-five percent of the samples, including juices from such brands as Gerber, Trader Joe's and Minute Maid, had more than 5 parts per billion of lead, according to Consumer Reports.  Five parts per billion is the standard set for lead in bottled water by the Food and Drug Administration. 

"We're not telling parents to freak out or throw out all their juices, but we are concerned about the public health consequences," said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumer Reports, who added that children are particularly vulnerable because of their smaller body size and because juice is often a staple of their diet.

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, and high levels of lead in drinking water can result in delays in physical and mental development, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Juice Products Association said in a written response to the report that “juice is safe for consumers of all ages.”

The group added that the levels of arsenic and lead in the products tested by Consumer Reports were within the Food and Drug Administration’s “level of concern” set for juices, which is 23 parts per billion for arsenic and 50 parts per billion for lead. If a company’s product is above the “level of concern,” the FDA can, but doesn’t have to, take action against the company.

Consumer Reports recommends that babies under six months of age not drink any type of juice, and that children six months to six years should have no more than four to six ounces a day, and that older children have no more than eight to 12 ounces a day.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.