There is a big debate that is raging rignt now on whether the levels of arsenic in apple juice is safe. I have decided to give my two cents on the subject. The whole issue began when Dr. Mehmet Oz brought up the issue on an episode of "The Dr. Oz Show". Here is a link to a preview of that episode. He had a lab run some tests on brands of apple juice to test for levels of arsenic. He says he found that the amounts of arsenic in the apple juice was beyond the level recommended by the FDA. His audience was stunned to hear this information.
The brands that Dr. Oz says had beyond the recommended levels of arsenic include:
Apple & Eve
There is another side to this story. The FDA is firing back. They are saying that Dr. Oz only tested for total amounts of arsenic. There are two types of arsenic: organic and inorganic. The inorganic is what is harmful if present in too high amounts. The FDA is saying that these juices do not exceed the level of inorganic arsenic they say is ok.
So who is right in this debate? I don't claim to be a scientist, nor have I done extensive research. As a food blogger and a consumer of apple juice, I am offering my opinion. First, I have to say that I do not trust either side. There are several reasons why I do not agree with the FDA, including allowing pink slime to be used in beef products. Also I recognize that Dr. Oz has a TV show that is in the money making business. Him and his producers want people to watch the show. Just by watching a preview for the show you hear things like "is apple juice dangerous" and "the most shocking investigation in Dr. Oz show history" as well as seeing clips of audience members' mouths wide open in shock. I admit I am writing this post right now in part because I think I can bring in search engine traffic to my site. Shocking shows like that bring ratings. The internet is buzzing today about that episode, so that will naturally leading to more people tuning in.
You can't let the FDA and Dr. Oz make the decisions for you. An elementary school has pulled apple juice immediately hearing Dr. Oz's report. But was that the right move? I think there are two questions you need to ask yourself.
1. Are you giving your kids apple juice in the place of eating a whole apple? Apple juice doesn't provide the fiber that an whole apple will. Juice is excess is not good for your teeth.
2. What is the source of the apples that is in your juice? I think this is the most important thing to look at. There was a time that America was the leading producer of apples in the world, but mistakes were made like pushing extremely red Red Delicious apples down our throats to the point that we repelled, giving China an open opportunity to take over the market place, which they did. So there is a good chance that the apple juice you are buying was made from apple concentrate from China. China does not have the laws that we do. Our country has fought to rid arsenic from pesticides.
The more you know about the source of your food the better you can be informed. This is one of the biggest problems when it comes to food in our country. We have no clue where it came from. We see the price in the supermarket and we buy. I think it's best to buy local or at least look for juice that says where the apples came from (Indian Summer Apple Juice
is made from U.S. grown apples). I love to buy apple cider from my local farms, where I can ask all the questions I want. I also feed my daughter way more whole apples than apple juice. She does drink juice but not on a daily basis. I don't always keep it on hand for her.
The larger question is perhaps who the apple you eat in your juice is harming in addition to you and your kids. I've walked past an apple orchard just sprayed - the chemical stench is extreme, and the orchard had Do Note Enter signs, because of the clear danger of the pesticide. But people work in those orchards every day, many without any protection at all.
So you buy apple juice. It's pretty cheap, but profitable for the processor, less so for the farmer. And we all absorb the social cost for the damage it does to farm workers, land, and ultimately to the child who drinks the juice.
A fine-grained concern like arsenic distracts from the larger whole - industrial farming profits the processor and packager, and wrecks things for everyone else. I don't even want to think about Chinese concentrate. If you want to eat well, go to a local farm you trust, and buy a real apple. Or real cider - nothing tastes better!