Some of the apple or grape juice you keep on hand for the grandkids -- or even yourself -- may have elevated levels of arsenic, a new study by Consumer Reports has found.
Of 88 samples of various brands of juice tested, nine had more arsenic than the government's standard for drinking water, or 10 parts per billion (10 ppb).
Apple juice brands that had at least one sample with more than 10 ppb of arsenic included Apple & Eve, Great Value (Walmart) and Mott's. For grape juice, at least one sample from Walgreens and Welch's exceeded that limit.
The Food and Drug Administration currently uses 23 ppb as a guide to judge whether juice is contaminated, and consumer groups are pushing the agency to lower that level to 3 ppb.
The FDA said this week it is considering setting a new standard.
Although arsenic is naturally present in soil, water and food, man-made arsenic from pesticides and other industrial uses is being found in some of the juice that little kids love to drink. The concern is that it could raise the risk of cancer or other health problems, particularly for children who drink large amounts or over a long period of time.
The problem, says the FDA, is that the juice sold by any one company can be made from concentrate from many different countries.
Consumer Reports notes that manufacturers often blend water with apple-juice concentrate from multiple sources, including China, where there have been problems with arsenic-contaminated groundwater.
A senior scientist with Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, told USA Today:
"We look at apple and grape juice as a poster child for arsenic in the food supply in general. Chronic low-level exposure of carcinogen is something we should be concerned about."
Both federal health officials and consumer advocates agree that drinking small amounts of apple juice isn't harmful. After all, 90 percent of the juice samples were under the federal safe water limit. The worry is over those who drink large amounts of juice.
For grandparents and parents concerned about how much juice to give children, here are some recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and others:
*Children ages 1 to 6 should drink no more than six ounces of juice -- about one juice box -- a day.
*Older children should be limited to 12 ounces daily.
*Infants under six months should not drink any juice.
*Use several brands of apple juice, Consumer Reports recommends, in case one brand tends to have higher levels than another.
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