Tree Top Gets FDA Warning Over Pear Juice Arsenic Levels

Tree Top, Inc. pear juice could contain as much as twice the amount of arsenic that federal health regulators think is safe. 

The Washington state based company was served a warning letter by the FDA earlier this month, alerting it to the fact that the amounts of arsenic found in its concentrated, ready-to-drink pear juice was too high and could be a health risk to people who drink their product regularly.

An FDA inspection of three samples of Tree Top pear juice found inorganic arsenic levels of 24 parts per billion (ppb), 34 ppb and 50 ppb. Anything over 23 ppb is considered a potential health risk for chronic use.

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The warning letter comes after an FDA announcement late last year that it would commit to taking a closer look at arsenic levels in juice.

While there is no official FDA arsenic standard for juice, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a limit on arsenic in drinking water of 10 ppb.

Some arsenic occurs naturally in some fruits, but there is a type of arsenic known as inorganic arsenic that does not. Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen. Even the 10 ppb level has been hotly contested by health experts, many of whom say it should be higher.

In the warning letter, the FDA inspectors state that their assessment of the danger of Tree Top pear juice comes from an April 2008 hazard assessment. The FDA wrote that it called the company in October 2011 to alert officials there of the high levels of arsenic. According to the warning letter, when inspectors asked what Tree Top intended to do to make the juice more safe, they were told that the company planned to do nothing.

Tree Top officials told the FDA that they believed all the juice in question had been used, that the arsenic levels did not pose a health risk and that the company thought the arsenic levels were below the FDA’s guidance threshold.

The FDA warning letter has given the company 15 days to reply with a list of corrective actions. If Tree Top fails to make corrections, it could be subjected to seizure or injunction.


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