Does Your Apple Juice Contain Arsenic?

by Keri Gans, R.D.N., for SHAPE.com

Is your apple juice safe to drink?Is your apple juice safe to drink?After pressure from many consumer groups, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing a maximum limit for arsenic levels in apple juice. The plan is to limit the amount of inorganic arsenic to 10 parts per billion, the same amount the Environmental Protection Agency allows in drinking water.

A lot of you might remember the big hoopla that occurred after a segment on the Dr. Oz show in September 2011. They revealed that several brands of apple juice contained high levels of arsenic and a wide panic among consumers set in. At that time the FDA expressed disapproval that the show did not distinguish between the two types of arsenic: inorganic and organic.

Here's the deal: Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that is found in combination with either inorganic or organic substances to form many different compounds. It occurs naturally in our soil and water supplies. Inorganic arsenic specifically has been classified as a human carcinogen, while organic is naturally occurring and basically causes no harm.

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Since arsenic dissolves easily in water, drinking water has long been monitored as a source of exposure. There is also a small chance of arsenic in grains, fruits, and vegetables since they are planted in the soil. While most crops don't readily absorb arsenic from the ground, rice is different because it grows in soil and water. At this point the FDA does not have limits set for arsenic in these foods.

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So what should you do? In my opinion I will still continue to enjoy all fruits, vegetables, and grains. When it comes to rice I will definitely watch my portion size as I encourage my patients to do regardless of potential arsenic. As for apple juice - I applaud the FDA for stepping up to the plate - but I still won't recommend drinking gallons of it at any age. Overall when it comes to juice I encourage no more than an 8-ounce serving per day and even more so recommend eating whole fruits for lower calories and the fiber benefits. Because honestly, if you consume too much juice or rice, those extra calories can equate to extra pounds and that is more likely to do you harm than the arsenic.

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