It all seemed a like shameless ratings stunt, but the campaign by telegenic daytime TV host Dr. Oz about arsenic levels in apple juice has been echoed by a new Consumer Reports investigation that contradicts the Food and Drug Administration.
This September, we were as skeptical as anyone when Dr. Mehmet Oz alarmed his viewers that "some of the best known brands in America have arsenic in their apple juice ... a poisonous metal known to cause cancer and potential IQ problems." It was a dubious-sounding claim because a) his show's yelping audience members and ominous music can be distracting and b) the FDA had a very plausible refutation: The Dr. Oz Show's testing measured total arsenic levels and didn't differentiate between organic arsenic and inorganic arsenic, which is the bad cancer-causing kind found in pesticides. "We have advised you that the test for total arsenic DOES NOT distinguish inorganic arsenic from organic arsenic," said an agency letter to the show.
But the new Consumer Reports investigation found that most of the arsenic that registered was inorganic and the total arsenic levels were higher than what the FDA allows in water. "The tests of 88 samples of apple juice and grape juice purchased in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut by Consumer Reports staffers found that 10 percent of those samples had total arsenic levels exceeding federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb) and 25 percent had lead levels higher than the 5 ppb limit for bottled water set by the Food and Drug Administration." The publisher of the report called for the FDA to impose arsenic standards on juice in a similar way it does for water. "Consumers Union is urging the FDA to set a more protective standard of 3 ppb for total arsenic and 5 ppb for lead in juice."
Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.