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Arsenic in Our Apple Juice? Dr. Oz Takes on the FDA

September 16, 2011

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Arsenic. It’s the toxin once found in rat poison, insecticide, and chemical weapons. According to popular TV doctor Mehmet Oz, it’s also in our apple juice.

The Dr. Oz Show staff hired an independent lab to test samples of apple juice produced overseas and found that one-third of the samples contained levels of arsenic higher than what the EPA permits in drinking water. While pesticides that contain arsenic are now banned in the USA, they are not regulated in other parts of the world. Dr. Oz’s study argues that apples treated with these pesticides are being used for popular imported brands of juice and are finding their way into American supermarkets – and into our drinking glasses.

The Food and Drug Administration is now firing back, claiming that Dr. Oz’s experiments are unfounded and that Americans have no reason to fear apple juice. Dr. Oz did not differentiate between the types of arsenic, they say – while inorganic arsenic is toxic, organic arsenic is far less dangerous. The FDA also claims that when they conducted the same tests on the same brands of apple juice, they found that arsenic levels were well within safe limits.

“To try to interpret that data to mean that apple juice is unsafe is misleading. It’s irresponsible, and I think they’re needlessly scaring parents,” FDA scientist Don Zink told the TODAY show. Dr. Oz is standing by his report, arguing that his testing methods were sound. Furthermore, he says that it’s unfair to argue that any type of arsenic is safe, organic or not.

Regardless of the side you take, this debate only underscores the importance of eating locally produced foods. After all, this September is locavore month! Not only does eating locally ensure that your produce is free of all contaminants and pesticides (arsenic included) but local foods are also fresher, more nutritious, more flavorful, better for the environment, and better for your local economy. Plus, if apple juice is what you’re craving this autumn, is there anything more delicious than fresh-squeezed juice from your neighborhood’s farmer’s market?

Check out Dr. Oz’s interview with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show:

What do you think of the apple juice-arsenic debate?