FDA Finally Limits Levels of Arsenic in Apple Juice


It’s been over a year since concerned parent groups demanded the FDA take precautions to limit the levels of arsenic in apple juices sold around the country. The FDA released today the limits will now match the levels that are permitted in drinking water.

The review has been sitting with the FDA for a few decades. The FDA contends that testing conducted by the agency have revealed low levels of inorganic arsenic molecules. The limits discovered were considered safe by the regulatory agency. Pressure from concerned parent groups forced the FDA to set the arsenic limits after cancer risks were reviewed.  This is a relief for parents across the country because apple juice is the second most popular juice for kids, second only to orange juice.

Under the new regulation, manufacturers will have to test and verify that arsenic levels do not exceed 10 parts per billion . If so, it must be removed from the market swiftly or the company will face heavy fines and legal action.

After decades of review, many are wondering why now the FDA has proposed the regulation. FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg stated to the Associated Press,

“We decided to put forward this proposed action level to give guidance to industry and to assure ongoing safety and quality.”

Previous to the new regulation being presented, the FDA had set a standard arsenic level limit of 23 parts per billion in apple juice manufacturing. There are still questions among activist groups as to why the FDA did not take action earlier.

Michael Taylor, the FDA deputy commissioner, downplayed the figures and stated that this is a precautionary figure to offset the potential for any long-term cancer risks,

“There isn’t a known threshold for the carcinogenic effect, so we assume the possibility of effects all the way down to the lowest dose,” stated Taylor.

A juice analysis was conducted in 2012 and out of the 94 samples taken, revealed that 95 percent of the samples were below 10 parts per billion for total arsenic levels. In addition, the analysis revealed none of the samples were over the limit for the inorganic arsenic.

Currently, arsenic regulations only exist for drinking water. With the addition of apple juice, this may force the FDA to consider some additional food items. In 2012 an independent study by Darmouth discovered unsafe and high levels of arsenic in common items used in homes all across America. They included:

  • Toddler formulas
  • Brown and white rice
  • Rice cereals
  • Rice cakes
  • Rice milk
  • Cereal bars
  • Energy shots

Taylor states the agency is making its reviews and rounds to encompass the above food concerns. The collection of sciences and their effect is still out and needs further testing, Taylor said.

What is inorganic arsenic? It is a chemical compound that encompasses copper aceto-arsenite and other elements that have traces of arsenic.

The chemical has been linked to skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neuro-toxicity.  The organic version of arsenic is considered harmless when ingested in minuscule amounts.

The FDA wants so advise to parent groups the arsenic regulations are limiting the levels based on their concern. It is suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics to serve children whole foods, instead of the sugar laden drinks. The Academy has also advised against serving fruit juices  to infants and limiting consumption to six years old and older.

Public comments to the FDA are permitted for the next 60 days, on the arsenic limiting regulation.


Angelina Bouc

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