|*sorry about the spacing in this post, must be my childhood apple juice causing problems|
I have to admit when I first heart the apple juice news, I thought it was sensationalized. I assumed the juice tested was an isolated batch found to be tainted. Then, Carolyn and I were talking to the GMA producers and they asked if we had seen Dr Besser and Dr Oz on that morning. We hadn’t but heard Dr Besser retracted his initial statement stating Dr Oz was blowing this situation out of proportion. We knew it was time to look into this. Carolyn did some digging to find the juicy truth.
Apples have a healthy reputation but apple juice has never been known for its nutrition. Once an apple is peeled and juiced, what’s left in that convenient little box is essentially sugar. Well, we thought it was just sugar anyway. Thanks to Dr Oz, who we’re growing to adore around here, apple juice has been part of a whole lot of drama over the past few weeks.
In September, the Dr Oz show did a private investigation and reported unsafe levels of arsenic in all 50 brands of apple juice they tested. The FDA attacked Dr Oz’s report as “irresponsible and misleading” because he didn’t distinguish between organic and inorganic arsenic (more on that later). Two weeks ago, Consumer Reports followed up and tested 88 samples of apple and grape juice and found 10% had inorganic arsenic levels over the FDA limit and 25% of samples had higher lead levels than the FDA’s drinking water standards. Consumer Reports found that big brands including Mott’s, Apple and Eve, Great Value (Wal-Mart’s house label) and Welches (grape) all exceeded the 10 pbb limit. CR has also suggested the FDA’s acceptable levels for arsenic be decreased; this would render the majority of juices tested unsafe.
Arsenic sounds scary and it is. There are two kinds of the heavy metal: organic (less harmful) and inorganic (more harmful). Organic arsenic occurs in nature and we are constantly exposed to small amounts…but you still wouldn’t want to drink it. Inorganic (man-made) aresenic is the more toxic type used in pesticides, herbicides and, best of all, chemical warfare. Chronic exposure to the carcinogen is associated with increased risk of bladder, kidney, lung, liver and colon cancer. Those cute little juice boxes are longing for the days when sugar was there biggest issue.
Does that mean no more apples and walnut butter (my favorite)? No, our American apples should technically be safe because the inorganic arsenic-based pesticides haven’t been legal here in years. At least we’re doing something right. Sort of, you see some apple juice tested from solely US apples still had elevated levels of arsenic. This is where organic becomes essential. If you’re eating organic apples harmful pesticides shouldn’t be an issue. The majority of America’s apple juice comes from China but manufacturers often mix juice concentrates from multiple countries. Many bottles of apple juice are melting pots making it difficult to tract down its exact origin.
We’re not apple juice promoters in general but I spent every day of my childhood lunch sipping Mott’s (parents, I forgive you) so I get that kids love it. If you must have apple juice follow Dr Oz’s rules to make it organic and from the US. Additionally read ingredient labels as apple juice is used in products you may not suspect. If the FDA thinks sipping chemical warfare compounds is safe, you must take matters into your own hands and make decisions that work for you.
It’s easy to feel as though eating is a minefield with dangerous chemicals at every turn. However, there are safe foods to eat. This is just another reason to know the provenance of your food and to purchase organic and domestic when possible.