Some apple and grape juices available in the United States and Canada were found with higher than acceptable levels of the carcinogen. A recent U.S. study found some apple and grape juices in North America had arsenic levels that exceeded drinking water standards.

The study tested 88 juice samples from ready-to-drink bottles, juice boxes, and cans from concentrate. The findings indicated that 10 per cent had higher levels of arsenic than the allowed limit for drinking water in both the United States and Canada, where it is set at 10 parts per billion (ppb). Juices with higher than acceptable levels of ppb included Welch’s, Mott’s and Great Value brands, with levels of arsenic ranging from 10.2 to 13.9 ppb. Most of the arsenic found was inorganic, a known carcinogen.

Responding to the study, Samuel Godefroy, the director general of Health Canada’s food directorate, told Postmedia News that in the rare case that a product does exceed the limit, it is recalled. He noted that most of the juices found to have elevated levels “were hovering just above the 10. This is showing that very infrequently do we have fruit juices, including apple juice, sold in Canada, at least based on that monitoring, that exceed those specific levels.” He pointed out the 2008 recall of Beech-Nut pear juice and President’s Choice Organic pear juice for toddlers where tests found five samples of juice with levels ranging from 58 to 100 ppb.

There are no limits set for arsenic in the United States, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a level of concern for apple juice with inorganic arsenic levels higher than 23 ppb. The FDA is currently working on establishing a guidance level that will reduce consumer’s exposure to arsenic in apple juice. Scientists involved in the consumer reports study now strongly feel that the FDA should limit arsenic in juice to 3 ppb.

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