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Alert for arsenic in apple juice? False

Arsenic and apple juice: not words you like to see in the same sentence. FDA has been testing them for years

There has been publicity recently over the amount of arsenic in the apple juice that many children drink.

But the Food and Drug Administration has every confidence in the safety of apple juice.

Donald Zink, Ph.D, senior science advisor at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), explains that arsenic is present in the environment as a naturally occurring substance or as a result of contamination from human activity. It is found in water, air, food, and soil in organic and inorganic forms.

As a result, small amounts of arsenic can be found in certain food and beverage products—including fruit juices and juice concentrates.

“As a parent and grandparent myself, I understand the concern over recent reports that arsenic has been found in apple juice,” says Zink.

But, he says, there is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices, Zink says. And FDA has been testing them for years.

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Hunting Inorganic Arsenic

Organic arsenic is essentially harmless, according to Zink, but the inorganic kind can be harmful at high and long-term levels of exposure.

FDA has been tracking total arsenic contamination in apple and other juices for about six years, since foreign producers started gaining an increasing share of the juice market, says Henry Kim, Ph.D., a supervisory chemist at CFSAN.

The agency searches for potential contaminants in fruit juices and fruit juice concentrate in three ways:

- FDA issues import alerts to keep potentially dangerous products from other countries out of the U.S. marketplace. The agency has issued a specific alert that requires importers to prove their fruit juices and concentrates are safe for consumption before they are allowed to enter the U.S.
- As part of the FDA Total Diet Study program, the agency annually tests baby foods and apple juice samples for the presence of arsenic.
- The agency collects and tests food and beverage samples in another program that looks for harmful substances in foods. Apple juice is one of the targeted products because investigators want to check for total and, if necessary, inorganic arsenic.

by Aliona Avduhova
03 october 2011, World News > America

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