Never Mind the BPA in Water Bottles: Your Kids Might Be Drinking Arsenic in Their Apple Juice

motts apple juice photo

Image: Hyougushi via flickr

You'd think the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would have established limits on things like arsenic and heavy metals in our food supply by now. There are limits for certain specified foods, but most items fall through the cracks—including popular, kid-friendly beverages like apple juice. Advocacy groups Empire State Consumer Project and Food & Water Watch sent a letter to the agency [PDF] today with new data showing levels of arsenic in apple juice well above—in one juice sample, five times higher—than what the EPA allows in drinking water.

From a Food & Water Watch press release:

The group arranged for testing of different brands of apple juice and apple sauce, and one sample of Mott's Apple Juice registered 55 parts per billion of arsenic. The EPA's tolerance level for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion, while the FDA does not have a tolerance level for juice.

And the recent testing, commissioned by the Empire State Consumer Project, is not the first time arsenic has been found. And there's not much reason to think the problem is limited to apple juice. More from the press release:

Two-thirds of apple juice that Americans consume--more than 400 million gallons annually--comes from China. This new data on apple juice comes on the heels of a report by Food & Water Watch that detailed China's terrible safety record for food shipped to the United States.

The new report, A Decade of Dangerous Food Imports from China, released last month by Food & Water Watch, analyzes how many common foods (many of which children eat on a daily basis, including apple juice, candy, and canned fruit) come from China. China's food exports to the U.S. have tripled over the past decade to nearly 4 billion pounds of food in 2010, worth nearly $5 billion. The FDA prevented over 9,000 unsafe products from entering the country between 2006 and 2010, but with a less than 2 percent inspection rate on imported food, countless other unsafe products undoubtedly entered the U.S. food system, the group warns

According to that report, "In 2009, 70 percent of the apple juice, 43 percent of the processed mushrooms, 22 percent of the frozen spinach and 78 percent of the tilapia Americans ate came from China."

"Our next safety scare could come compliments of China," said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter. "The FDA has a responsibility to focus its attention on imported foods, especially those that are most often eaten by children. Setting a limit for arsenic in apple juice would be a good place to start."

More on global food security:
Rising Temperatures Melting Away Global Food Security
25% Reduction in Global Food Production by 2050: Organic Agriculture Part of the Solution
Global Warming to Disrupt Food Supply in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, New Study Warns
Reverse China Syndrome: Poisoning America's Supply Chain Through Incompetence And Greed

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