The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it is proposing to establish a maximum level of arsenic acceptable in apple juice. The threshold, 10 parts per billion, is the same as the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirement for drinking water.
The agency will accept public comments on the proposed action for 60 days.
Nearly two years ago, reports from the TV show of Mehmet Oz, MD, and later Consumer Reports, raised alarms about the amount of arsenic appearing in apple juice. The FDA’s own subsequent investigation found that overall arsenic levels were generally below the 10 ppb threshold. Of those that were higher, the levels of inorganic arsenic — identified as a known carcinogen — were all below 10 ppb.
Organic arsenic, which is normally found in the earth’s crust, is essentially harmless, according to the agency.
“The FDA is committed to ensuring the safety of the American food supply and to doing what is necessary to protect public health,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, said in a press release. “We have been studying this issue comprehensively, and based on the agency’s data and analytical work, the FDA is confident in the overall safety of apple juice for children and adults.”
U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced legislation last February, which would have required the FDA to limit the amount of lead and arsenic in drinks containing fruit juice within two years of passage to amounts allowed in drinking water under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The bill was stalled in the Energy and Commerce Committee.