The Arsenic Scare: Is Apple Juice Safe for Kids?

Not long ago, Oprah’s own health guru Dr. Mehmet Oz created a fuss when he announced that some of the most popular brands of apple juice on the planet contain unsafe levels of arsenic. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and others dismissed the claims, pointing out that arsenic is a naturally occurring compound and insisting that the levels found in commercial juice were safe. And besides, it was the “harmless” organic arsenic, anyway.

On the FDA website’s page dedicated exclusively to apple-juice-and-arsenic FAQs, the agency says this: “We continue to find the vast majority of apple juice tested to contain low levels of arsenic. For this reason, FDA is confident in the overall safety of apple juice consumed in this country.”
But a new tests from Consumer Reports confirm Dr. Oz’s suspicions that many brands of apple juice contain “troubling” levels of both arsenic -- and lead. In fact, 10% of the juice tested had levels greater than the agency permits -- and for the record, it was the unsafe inorganic kind. Researchers think contaminated soil is a likely source of the arsenic in apple juice, which helps explain why the toxin is found even in juices made from 100% organically-grown apples.
Health experts consider arsenic a carcinogen and believe that long-term, chronic exposure can increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, skin disorders, developmental issues and more. Seems like the solution is pretty simple: Limit the number of juice boxes your kid throws back and try to choose brands of juice that have the lowest levels of contaminants (click here for a list) -- below 3ppb for total arsenic and 5 ppb for lead in juice, according to the Consumers Union. Pediatricians already encourage limiting juice consumption (as in none at all for babies under 6 months and a mere half-cup a day for kids under 7) because of its ridiculously high sugar content. Nice glass of water, anyone? 

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