Apple Juice Wars

Has Dr. Mehmet Oz gone too far this time?

It’s one thing to urge people to analyze the sound and shape of their poop, or to recommend pepto-bismol as a anti-aging facial.

But when you mess with one of the cornerstones of childhood beverages-namely, apple juice- you may have just gone too far!

This week on The Dr. Oz Show,  Oz aired an “investigative report” revealing that some of the best known brands of apple juice , including Minute Maid, Apple & Eve, Mott’s, Juicy Juice, and Gerber,  may contain arsenic and that parents should be concerned.

The show hired an independent laboratory, EMSL Analytical, to test samples of juice taken from three U.S. cities for arsenic. They then compared this to the Environmental Protection Agency’s EPA) safe standard for drinking water, which is less than 10 parts per billion. According to Oz, several sampled tested higher than this limit.

The FDA has questioned these results, centering primarily on Oz’s testing methods, which provided only the level of total arsenic in the juices. There are two forms of arsenic — organic and inorganic.

According to the FDA: The inorganic forms of arsenic are the harmful forms, while the organic forms of arsenic are essentially harmless. Because both forms of arsenic have been found in soil and ground water, small amounts may be found in certain food and beverage products, including fruit juices and juice concentrates. The reason the organic form of arsenic is not harmful is because it is not absorbed by the body.

Apparently, the FDA warned Dr. Oz’s staff that they questioned his results, even before the show was aired, but he showed it as is anyway.


This lead to a rather heated debate between Dr. Oz and ABC medical correspondent, Dr. Richard Besser on Good Morning America:

Five things to know about Arsenic and Apple Juice

1.  Although arsenic has been banned from pesticides in this country since the 1970, small amounts of arsenic will always be around as it is a natural chemical.

2. Apple juice is a blend of juices from all over the world. Although some areas, such as southeast Asia, may have some areas with higher arsenic levels,the overall level of arsenic in apple juice has remained low over the long period of time that the FDA has been monitoring levels.

3. The FDA is unaware of any data that shows that organic juice tends to have less arsenic than non-organic apple juice. Even organic apples come from trees that grow in soil that may contain arsenic.

4. FDA completed laboratory analysis of the same lot of Gerber apple juice that was tested by the Dr. Oz. Show, as well as several other lots produced in the same facility. The FDA’s testing detected very low levels of total arsenic in all samples tested. These new results were consistent with the FDA’s results obtained in the FDA’s routine monitoring program and are well below the results reported by the Dr. Oz Show.

5. Where can I get more information?

So, do you think Dr. Oz went too far by airing this report?

Will you stop giving your child apple juice?

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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