September 18, 2011
The Honorable Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857
Dear Commissioner Hamburg,
I write to express my concern about the quality and safety of imported Chinese-produced foodstuffs, including fruit and vegetable juices and juice concentrates that may contain high levels of inorganic arsenic. I respectfully request that the FDA increase inspections, testing and analysis of imported juices and juice concentrates.
As you know, apple juice is a beverage regularly consumed by children. Over 70 percent of the apple juice concentrate used in processing and consumed in the United States is imported from China. Pear juice – the majority of which also is imported from China – is another popular children’s beverage. Given continuing horror stories of toxic food additives and chemicals in the Chinese food supply, I am concerned that the juice and juice concentrate China exports to the United States may put children at risk of exposure to cancer-causing contaminants such as arsenic.
I understand there is no present limit for the total permissible concentration of arsenic or inorganic arsenic in food or beverages. This gap in safe food guidance is disturbing, and I urge the FDA to establish a federal standard for arsenic in food and beverages.
The possibility that arsenic contamination is endangering the health of our children cannot and should not be ignored. As such, I urge the FDA to act expeditiously with respect to testing of juice imports and setting a federal standard for arsenic.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I also ask that you please keep me apprised of developments on this issue.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer