After thinking about it for a couple of decades, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided that limiting the amount of inorganic arsenic in apple juice to the same level of the potential cancer-causing chemical allowed in drinking water is probably a good idea. Especially since kids tend to drink a lot of it.
On Friday, the agency proposed a limit of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in apple juice, the level set by the Environmental Protection Agency for arsenic in drinking water, according to Reuters.
"While the levels of arsenic in apple juice are very low, the FDA is proposing an action level to help prevent public exposure to the occasional lots of apple juice with arsenic levels above those permitted in drinking water," said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.
Last year the agency tested 94 samples of apple juice and found that all were below the 10 ppb threshold for inorganic arsenic. So now it is setting that limit as the allowable future benchmark. It will accept public comments on its recommendations for 60 days, in case you are pro-arsenic.
Inorganic arsenic is present in the environment, both as a naturally occurring mineral and due to the use of arsenic-containing pesticides. Is is also found amidst old lace.
A known carcinogen, it has been associated with many ill health effects, such as skin lesions, developmental disabilities, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes. Organic forms of arsenic, also found in soil and ground water (and apple seeds), are considered essentially harmless.
Consumer Reports called the move a "reasonable first step in protecting consumers from unnecessary exposure to arsenic."
"This is also a signal that we need to refocus on how we are introducing arsenic into the environment," Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports, told Reuters. "You want to see that standard get stronger and stronger over time, and we're going to hope to see that with apple juice."
Unless, of course, you have a pesky adversary.