In the latest episode of "Things to Fear in Your Food," we're looking at "Arsenic in Your Apple Juice." Yes, arsenic, the toxic metalloid associated with cancer, organ failure, and death, may be lurking in your sweet, innocent apple juice. It's just like in the movie Arsenic and Old Lace where the two elderly spinsters kill off lonely old bachelors with elderberry wine spiked with the poison -- only not nearly as entertaining.
Dr. Oz and his team recently tested five popular brands of apple juice and found elevated levels of arsenic. Mind you, "elevated" is not a trivial amount. It means levels higher than what's allowed in drinking water. It means levels you might not want to be consuming daily, or even weekly, because arsenic likes to build up in your system. It's not a visitor; it's a permanent house guest who never leaves but just keeps getting bigger and more obnoxious.
Out of 36 samples (they tested the same brands multiple times just to be thorough), 10 exceeded the limits for drinking water set by the EPA, and some even measured above "levels of concern." Those levels are based on people consuming just 4 ounces a day. Who stops at just 4 ounces? Not even most children.
"As a doctor and a parent, it's concerning to me that there could be toxins such as arsenic in juice we are giving to our kids," said Dr. Oz. "While we do not know of any cases of poisonings, we do know that arsenic is a substance that shouldn't be in food and could be associated with various public health problems such as cancer."
He thinks we should have standards for allowable levels of arsenic for juice just like we do for water. Oh, ya think, Dr. Oz? And what the hell is arsenic doing in apple juice in the first place?!
Maybe we should blame China. Oh, you didn't know we import apple juice from China? Well, we do. You will recall the fun we had with melamine-tainted food a while back. Good times. The U.S. has banned the use of arsenic in pesticides, but we have no control over what comes in from other countries. Even if we weren't importing apple juice, arsenic can sneak into apples from contaminated soil and water here at home.
Some might say, "Eh, I drink apple juice all the time and I'm not dead yet." But I'm getting a little tired of hearing about friends and family members getting cancer after living otherwise healthy lives. I'm trying to minimize my exposure to toxins, so I would like to know which foods out there may have "elevated" levels of arsenic in them.
At this point you're probably wondering which brands of apple juice you should be avoiding. So am I. But we will have to wait for Dr. Oz to do the big reveal on the show, which happens Wednesday. Apparently he names names! Can't wait.
So yeah, enjoy your orange juice -- unless there's something wicked hiding in that, too.
Are you steering clear of apple juice now?
Image via Amy Loves Yah/Flickr