What started as a peculiar hiccup on day-time television has turned into a full-fledged uprising against "poisonous" apple juice. Days after TV host Dr. Mehmet Oz sent parents into a panic about feeding their kids arsenic-laced apple juice, New York Senator Chuck Schumer has now taken up the apple juicer torch, issuing a press release headlined "FDA Does Not Have Standards in Place for Toxic, Inorganic Arsenic in Juice" and calling on the Food and Drug Administration to implement "new standards" for testing for apple juice imported from China.
At the same time, parental websites such as Babble.com are warning child caretakers to check the labels on juices to avoid any ingredients from China. "Do you think the juice you buy doesn’t have concentrate from China? I did too," writes Babble blogger Danielle Sullivan, noting that even brands such as Apple & Eve contain concentrate "manufactured" in China. In Detroit, health experts and parents are calling for a federal investigation, according to the Detroit News. "I don't think we've gotten to the bottom of this story yet in terms of whether apple juice does have unsafe levels of arsenic," Dr. Matthew Davis, a pediatrician at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, tells the paper. Meanwhile, The Miami Herald is publishing warnings from Robin Shreeves cautioning against the belief that apple juice is safe "just because the FDA says it is" adding that "many of the substances they allow are questionable."
It's a huge annoyance for the FDA, which is fighting an uphill information war against the poisonous apple juice clan, noting that apple juice is perfectly safe and that organic arsenic is "harmless" as it is present in the air, water, food and soil we're around every day. It also disputes the testing done by The Dr. Oz Show, which claimed unusually high arsenic levels. "There is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices. And FDA has been testing them for years," the agency said last week. Many other health officials have come to the FDA's side. ABC News Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser chastised Dr. Oz on Good Morning America saying "Mehmet, I’m very upset about this, I think that this was extremely irresponsible. It reminds me of yelling fire in a movie theater.”
Following the terrifying episode aired last week, even Dr. Oz has walked back, acknowledging that "no children are dying from acute lethal arsenic poisoning” and that he's merely concerned about long-term effects. OK, but what about Schumer? If we take the New York senator at his word, he's just concerned about child safety. However, the last paragraph of his Sunday press release probably points to the genuine impetus for his involvement:
Schumer pointed out that apple growers in New York and the United States do not use inorganic, arsenic in pesticides and perhaps a better option for juice makers is to use more New York grown apples in their concentrates. American farmers must comply with strict standards put forth by the EPA, USDA and FDA and produce higher quality products.
“While there is no cause for alarm and no need to stop drinking juice, a good option for juice makers and families who have concerns is to buy juice made from New York produced apples, which, like apples throughout the United States, do not use pesticides with inorganic arsenic in them.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.