Back in July, "Dr.Oz" reported the results of tests showing alarmingly high levels of arsenic in some apple juice, including Motts. Back then, the FDA responded y saying that the type of arsenic in juices - organic arsenic - is harmless. But in its Jan 2012 issue, Consumer Reports is releasing the results of its own investigation: Juices that are popular with babies and kids contain elevated levels of carcinogenic arsenic, and U.S. grown rice contains worrying levels of the same compound.
- Roughly 10 percent of our juice samples, from five brands, had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards. Most of that arsenic was inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen.
- One in four samples had lead levels higher than the FDA’s bottled-water limit of 5 ppb. As with arsenic, no federal limit exists for lead in juice.
- Mounting scientific evidence suggests that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead even at levels below water standards can result in serious health problems.
Where's the arsenic coming from?
The source of the arsenic is pesticides that have been banned in the U.S. since the '80s. The contaminated juices come from China, where the pesticide is still legal; and it has contaminated ground waters here, where rice is grown in deep paddies. Consumer Reports' advocacy arm is pressuring the FDA to regulate arsenic in foods (currently it's only regulated in drinking water) and is recommending that manufacturers of ground rice for babies use techniques that don't require deep-paddy growing.
What's a mom to do?
According to CR, rice grown in California has a 41% lower arsenic level than Southern rice, and Basmati rice from India and Pakistan has even lower levels. Boxed ground rice sold for babies doesn't usually indicate origin, but it's pretty easy to grind rice in a blender and make your own baby food. Here's how. (You can read more about arsenic in rice for adults and babies here.) As for juices, Consumer Reports has produced an easy-glance chart showing test results for 88 popular juices, including Juicy Juice 100% (low levels) and Whole Foods' 365 (high levels) - check it out.