FDA Sets New Arsenic Limits for Apple Juice (Which Isn’t Too Scary, Really)

apple juice arsenic study july 12

Back in 2011, The Dr. Oz Show instilled terror in parents everywhere: According to their studies, the very apple juice you’ve been packing in your kids’ lunchboxes every day for years contains the cancer-causing agent arsenic. Cue mother mayhem. But after more than a year, the FDA has responded to the worries of consumers — worries that were ignited by Dr. Oz — and set the limit of arsenic levels in apple juice at 1o parts per billion. Companies that don’t abide by these rules will have to take their product off the shelves and could even face legal action.

This is good news. Once this new regulation goes into effect, you have one fewer reason to worry about your kids. But, honestly, the discovery of arsenic in apple juice, though slightly disconcerting, was not worth the extreme response it inspired. Alarmists took Dr. Oz’s discovery and ran with it, leading the rest of the world to suddenly question their parenting decisions. Yes, you should be looking out for your kids, and yes, that includes making sure they’re not being poisoned. But Yahoo! inadvertently sets the whole scandal straight: “Studies have shown that the juice contains very low levels of arsenic, a cancer-causing agent found in everything from water to soil to pesticide.” Yes, apple juice contains low levels of arsenic. But so does water. And so does rice for that matter. Arsenic is going to exist in the things we put in our bodies, as much as we don’t want it to.

And while organic apple juice has been proven to have lower levels of arsenic, not all families — in fact, the minority of families — can afford to buy this more expensive option. Of course, the arsenic-in-apple-juice topic is trending today in a good light rather than a bad one, so worry is decreasing anyway. But it’s important to note that those who have been buying regular apple juice from the supermarket for the past ten years have not been poisoning their children. Back in 2008, the FDA determined the 23 parts per billion was a “level of concern”. They also determined that 95 percent of apple juice is below 10 parts per billion. They’re pretty  much telling you that there really wasn’t anything to worry about in the first place.

It’s good that the FDA is taking the matter of arsenic in apple juice into their own hands, especially after Dr. Oz’s television announcement. The regulation will give mothers everywhere a break from the harrowing discussion among consumers — and it’s about time.