Apple Juice Arsenic Level Guidance Proposed by FDA

In response to concerns about the potentially harmful effects of arsenic in apple juice, the FDA has proposed an “action level”, which would limit the levels of inorganic arsenic to match those allowed in drinking water.

According to draft guidelines released on Friday, the FDA is proposing an action level that would prevent any manufacturer from selling apple juice with over 10 parts per billion of inorganic arsenic.

Arsenic is a known carcinogen that has been associated with multiple harmful side effects such as skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. The levels of arsenic in food has become an increasing concern, because it is a naturally occuring mineral from use of pesticides.

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Concerns about the lack of arsenic standards in juices and similar products was raised by Consumer Reports in 2011, when a report by the consumer group found that the 10 percent of juices tested had more arsenic than what is legally allowed in drinking water.

Some juices tested in the Consumer Reports study were identified having up to 24 parts per billion of arsenic, which is more than double the deemed acceptable level.

In response to the report, the FDA announced in December 2011 that it was going to take a closer look at arsenic levels in apple juice.

“While the levels of arsenic in apple juice are very low, the FDA is proposing an action level to help prevent public exposure to the occasional lots of apple juice with arsenic levels above those permitted in drinking water,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in a statement released last week.

The agency indicates that it has been monitoring arsenic levels in apple juice for the past 20 years and they are consistently low, with only few occasions when levels surpass 10 parts per billion. The FDA indicates that the proposed action level takes into account a recently completed, peer-reviewed risk assessment of inorganic arsenic in apple juice conducted by FDA scientists, which was based on lifetime exposure.

Arsenic levels have become a major concern to regulators because of its vast growth due to the use of pesticides and the harmful side effects over exposure can cause consumers.


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