Arsenic in Apple Juice

March 15, 2012

Some consumers are understandably surprised to learn that arsenic is present in water, air, and soil, and as a result, it can be found in certain foods and beverages, including apple juice and juice concentrates.

Arsenic is present in the environment as a naturally occurring substance and as a result of contamination from human activity, such as past use of fertilizers and arsenic-based pesticides, which may still be in the soil, explains Donald Zink, Ph.D, senior science advisor at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

“While environmental contaminants like arsenic are unavoidable in food,” says Zink, “the goal is to keep the levels of arsenic that people consume over the course of their lives as low as possible.”

That’s where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) come in. Their job is to monitor food and the environment and take action when needed to protect the American public.

Testing for Arsenic

FDA has been testing and monitoring fruit juices, including apple juice, for arsenic content for more than 20 years, says Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. “We are confident in the overall safety of apple juice consumed in this country because we continue to find that apple juice, on average, contains low amounts of arsenic.”

In fact, FDA’s most recent tests done in 2010 and 2011 show on average about 3 parts of arsenic in every one billion parts of apple juice. That is lower than the 10 parts per billion set by EPA as the maximum level allowed in public drinking water.

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