Children’s Fruit Juices Contain Cancer-Causing Chemicals: Study

European scientists say that a number of children’s fruit juice drinks contain more than twice the amount of a potentially fatal carcinogen than is usually found in tap water.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that bottles of fruit juice contained up to 2.5 more antimony, a cancer-causing substance, than is considered safe in tap water. The team, which did not name any brand name products, had their findings published by the Royal Society of Chemistry late last month.

Scientists who participated in the study said that there needs to be an immediate investigation into the health effects of antimony in fruit juice, according to a story published in the U.K.’s Daily Mail. The researchers say the findings raise concerns that the health of millions of children could be adversely affected by the chemical.

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It is unclear whether any of the juices examined, which included flavors like blackcurrant and strawberry squash, are sold domestically in the U.S.

Antimony is a heavy metal often used as a flame retardant. It is also used to make polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles used by many bottled water companies. It is toxic, and can cause dizziness, depression and headaches at low levels. Prolonged exposure can result in lung and heart problems, as well as ulcers and diarrhea. At high levels, it can cause violent, severe vomiting and death.

Researchers who took part in the study say that the antimony is likely leaching into the juices from plastic bottles. Some speculate that the citric acid in the juices could accelerate the leaching process.

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  • SallyMarch 22, 2010 at 6:52 am

    The amounts found were well below the specific migration limit for antimony, which is the applicable limit if the antimony were migrating from the packaging. See Directive 2002/72/EC as currently amended. The authors apparently don't know much about food contact regulations or up-to-date health assessments for antimony.

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