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Wednesday
Nov302011

Arsenic in Juice: New Study Prompts Action

Schnare & Stief/StockFood Creative(YONKERS, N.Y.) -- An investigation into trace amounts of arsenic found in bottled juice has prompted advocacy group Consumers Union to urge the Food and Drug Administration to lower its standards for arsenic levels in juice drinks.

The results of the study released Wednesday indicate that 10 percent of juices tested had total arsenic levels greater than the FDA's standard for drinking water of 10 parts per billion (ppb), while 25 percent of juices also had lead levels higher than the FDA's bottled water limit of 5 ppb.

Consumer Reports tested 88 samples of popular brands of grape and apple juice sold in the United States, including Mott's, Minute Maid and Welch's.  Most of the arsenic detected in Consumer Reports' tests was a type known as inorganic, which is a human carcinogen.

The testing and analysis has led Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, to urge the federal government to establish a standard of 3 ppb for total arsenic and 5 ppb for lead in juice.

"We're concerned about the potential risks of exposure to these toxins, especially for children who are particularly vulnerable because of their small body size and the amount of juice they regularly consume," said Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., director of safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports.

Although federal standards exist for arsenic and lead levels allowed in bottled and drinking water, there are no limits defined for fruit juices, a mainstay of many children's diets.

In a statement to ABC News regarding the new Consumer Reports data, the FDA -- which stated in September 2011 amid public controversy that apple juice consumption poses little or no risk -- said it is now gathering further information.

"A small percentage of samples contain elevated levels of arsenic.  In response, the FDA has expanded our surveillance activities and is collecting additional data," the agency said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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