Fall allergy  air filter

Arsenic in Foods - Is it Safe to Drink Apple Juice and Eat Rice?

Apple Juice and an Apple If you have been following news reports about arsenic foods, you've probably seen Dr.Oz's report about arsenic in apple juice and Consumer Reports studies about high levels of arsenic rice, and the FDA's proposal to limit the amount of arsenic in apple juice.  But what does it all mean?  Is it safe to drink apple juice? And half the world's population eats rice as their basic food each day.  Are they all dying from arsenic poisoning?

This page presents an explanation of the issues, links to the reference sources and a bottom line conclusion.


Why is arsenic dangerous?

A known carcinogen, inorganic arsenic also has been associated with skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, and diabetes. Chronic arsenic exposure can initially cause gastrointestinal problems and skin discoloration or lesions. Signs of chronic low-level arsenic exposure can be mistaken for other ailments such as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Inorganic arsenic, the sum of arsenite (As+3) and arsenate (As+5), is generally considered more toxic than organic arsenic, and some organic species in food (such as arsenobetaine, commonly found in seafood) are considered nontoxic (

How does arsenic get into foods?

Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance and naturally finds its way into many foods, from apple juice and rice to meats like chicken, but usually in trace amounts.

Older pesticides (now banned) contained arsenic, which led to a build-up of arsenic in soils, which can still find its way into foods. Arsenic was also used in a preservative for pressure-treateing wood (that was baned in 2003) , which is commonly used for decks and playground equipment. Consumer Reports has an interactive map of the known contamination of groundwater here.

Imported foods, from countries with no or lax standards or poor enforcement, like China (from which much apple juice is imported to the U.S.) also accounts for the presence of some arsenic in our food. See this story "Why Americans Should Worry About China’s Food Safety Problems" in the - Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2013.

In which foods is arsenic the greatest risk?

Rice:

See this page for a discussion of Arsenic in rice

Apple Juice:

See this page for a discussion of arsenic in apple juice

References:

Many of the references are found by links throughout the article above, but are present ehere for clarity:

  1. FDA announcement of limits on arsenic in apple juice. - US FDA,
  2. FDA to set new limit on arsenic in apple juice - Washington Post.
  3. Total Arsenic in Mott’s and Nestle/Gerber Apple Juice, US FDA, December 16, 2011
  4. Results of Arsenic Analysis in Single-Strength Apple Juice, 2011 (ORA Sampling Assignment 2011102701) - US FDA, December 16, 2011
  5. Arsenic in Apple Juice Analytical Results, 2005-2011 Toxic Elements Food and Foodware Program  - US FDA, December 16, 2011
  6. Questions & Answers: Apple Juice and Arsenic - US FDA, December 16, 2011

This page was updated on 30-Mar-2016