There’s no doubt that The Dr. Oz Show investigation into arsenic levels in apple juice shocked a lot of people, especially parents who consider apple juice to be a nutritious staple in their kids’ diets. It is unacceptable that a toxic chemical like arsenic is allowed to contaminate our food and drink, and we all need to demand higher standards of protection for our families.
So, how did arsenic get into apple juice? Arsenic is an odorless, tasteless chemical that has long been used as a pesticide, herbicide, wood preserver, and for chemical warfare. It’s also a known human carcinogen, and chronic exposure is associated with an increased risk for several kinds of cancer, including bladder, kidney, lung, liver and colon. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurological problems in children have also been linked to chronic arsenic exposure.
One way for arsenic to make it into apple juice is through the use of arsenic-based pesticides in orchards, another is if water added to juice concentrate contains the chemical. Several years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency lowered the allowable level of arsenic in drinking water because of concerns about health risks.
But when it comes to juice, we also need to think about where it comes from. Most people don’t realize that two-thirds of the apple juice that Americans consume – more than 400 million gallons annually – come from juice concentrate shipped from China. A recent report by Food & Water Watch revealed that many other foods and drinks that children consume on a daily basis, including canned and frozen fruit, candy and vitamins, are coming from China with little or no food safety oversight.
China is sending a lot of food to American dinner tables: The country’s food exports to the US have tripled over the past decade to nearly 4 billion pounds of food in 2010. Unfortunately, China has a terrible track record on food safety.