However, today that adage seems to apply only to the fruit and not the juice form. A new study found high levels of arsenic in some popular juice brands including Minute Maid, Welch’s and Tropicana.
After testing 88 samples of apple and grape juice found on grocery store shelves, Consumer Reports magazine found that 10% had total arsenic levels that exceeded US federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb), the same threshold for the European Union. Futhermore, most of the arsenic detected is a type known as inorganic, a human carcinogen that’s been linked to bladder, lung and skin cancer and immunodeficiencies. The investigation also found that 25% of the samples had lead levels higher than the FDA’s bottled-water limit of 5 ppb.
Because its loaded in calories (in some cases more than soda), health experts feel apple juice’s real danger is to waistlines and children’s teeth. Parents are advised to limit their child’s juice consumption, not only for arsenic levels but for dietary and nutritional reasons. Infants under six months should not be given any type of juice, while children up to six years old should consume no more than four to six ounces — or less than a cup — a day. Diluting juice with distilled or purified water is also recommended.
“Juice is basically sweet water,” said Dr. Jerome Paulson, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics council on environmental health. “Kids are better off getting the vitamins from the fruit or vegetable itself because then they get some
additional nutrients like vitamins or fibers,” he said.
If you or your family drinks juice, here is some advice from nutrition experts:
—Choose a juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D-3.
—Give children only pasteurized juice — that’s the only type safe from germs that can cause serious disease.
—Don’t give juice before 6 months of age, and never put it in bottles or covered cups that allow babies and children to consume it throughout the day, which can cause tooth decay. For the same reason, don’t give infants juice at bedtime.
—Encourage kids to eat fruit.
—Don’t be swayed by healthy-sounding label claims. “No sugar added” doesn’t mean it isn’t full of naturally occurring sugar. And “cholesterol-free” is silly — only animal products contain cholesterol.
The full report is featured in the January 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine and a chart that identifies total arsenic levels can be found at www.ConsumerReports.org/juicebox.
Will you allow your family to continue drinking apple juice?