Yesterday, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Columbia University thoracic surgeon who gained fame and notoriaty first through books and the Oprah Show and even more so with his own show, The Dr. Oz Show, reported on a special investigative study that found unhealthy levels of arsenic in common brands of apple juice. Anyone in range of any form of media is probably already aware of the huge controversy this has started between him and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In an article released on the FDA’s Consumer Update page, Donald Zink, Ph.D, senior science advisor at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), explains that arsenic occurs naturally in the environment (organic) or as a result of contamination from human activity (inorganic). He says it is found in water, air, food, and soil in organic and inorganic forms and a small amounts of arsenic can be found in certain food and beverage products—including fruit juices and juice concentrates. He continues on to say “there is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices. And FDA has been testing them for years.”
The point being made by the Dr. Oz segment was that some of the juices tested had higher levels of arsenic than the FDA allowable levels for drinking water and that there are currently no defined “unsafe” levels of arsenic in juices by the FDA.
Neither side disputes that there is aresenic in the apple juice, so how does it get there? Patty Lovera,
Assistant Director of Food & Water Watch, says, “One way for arsenic to make it into apple juice is through the use of arsenic-based pesticides in orchards, another is if water added to juice concentrate contains the chemical.”
How does the consumer know who to trust? This is a difficult question to answer. The public needs to realize that these issues can get very political and can be used by the media for sensationalism. Both sides have invested interests in this debate. It’s best to be aware of the issues and study them independently before jumping on either bandwagon.
What can be done to prevent the consumption of dangerous chemicals in foods?
1. Read Labels – Know what is in the product, know where it came from. Try to purchase foods grown in the United States.
2. Go Organic – Organic foods are required to meet stricter standards relative to how they are grown, handled and processed. Become aware of the marketing and labeling requirements for organic products.
Quetions or comments, please weigh in on the “Who do you trust?” conversation going on on the Renewed You Now Facebook page.