Legislation introduced for arsenic, lead in juices

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON – Proposed legislation introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey would require the Food and Drug Administration to establish standards for arsenic and lead levels in fruit juices within two years time if passed. F.D.A. regulations currently limit the levels of arsenic and lead allowable in bottled water, but they do not extend to fruit juices.

The “Arsenic prevention and protection from lead exposure in juice act of 2012” was introduced on the heels of a Consumer Reports magazine investigation published this past January that found high levels of arsenic and lead in apple juice and grape juice products sold in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

The report found 10% of the sample juices from five brands had arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards, and 25% had lead levels that were higher than the federal standards for bottled water.

“The unacceptable levels of arsenic and lead in juices currently sitting on shelves at the supermarket present a danger for our children and their health,” Mr. Pallone said. “Setting basic standards for arsenic and lead in products whose consumers are primarily children is not only the right thing to do it will help give parents the peace of mind that the juices their children drink daily are safe.”

In response to the Consumer Reports investigation, the F.D.A. said, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been testing for arsenic in apple juice and other fruit juices for decades as part of F.D.A. programs that look for harmful substances in food. We continue to find the vast majority of apple juice tested to contain low levels of arsenic. For this reason, F.D.A. is confident in the overall safety of apple juice consumed in this country.”

With regard to setting a standard for the level of arsenic in juices, the agency said, “Scientific evidence indicates that if arsenic occurs, it almost always does so at very low levels. But F.D.A. is collecting all relevant information to evaluate and determine if setting guidance or other level for inorganic arsenic in apple juice is appropriate.”

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