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Consumer Reports Statement on FDA’s Final Apple Juice Guidance

Consumers Reports calls on FDA to set lower limits on inorganic arsenic in apple juice which its tests show are feasible 

Yonkers, NY — Consumer Reports today is questioning the public health impact of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s final guidance for industry on limits for inorganic arsenic in apple juice. The limits set by FDA announced today on the amount of inorganic arsenic allowed in apple juice – 10 parts per billion (ppb) – are too high, and would leave children vulnerable to serious health issues, including damage to the brain and nervous system, which can lead to learning and behavioral problems.

Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports, said: “Today’s announcement by FDA will have minimal impact on public health because the action level should be lower than 10 ppb based on current science. Plus, they waited until a vast majority of the industry was already meeting this level, so this announcement is virtually irrelevant.”

“Nonetheless, it is encouraging that the FDA has recently undertaken a renewed focus on addressing food chemicals and heavy metals. Hopefully, the FDA will continue to focus on these issues and monitor and take action if they find troubling levels of inorganic arsenic in apple juice.” 

Setting limits for inorganic arsenic in foods, especially foods consumed by children, is vital to help reduce exposure and better protect public health. While Consumer Reports (CR) supports an action level to offer regulators a necessary enforcement and accountability tool and a key benchmark for apple juice manufacturers, CR research shows the FDA’s final action level is not in the best interest of consumers. 

Consumer Reports urges the FDA to implement more health-protective levels for foods, especially baby foods, and to lower the action level to 3 ppb for arsenic in apple juice

In 2018, Consumer Reports tested 45 popular fruit juices sold across the country—including apple, grape, pear, and fruit blends—and found elevated levels of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead in 21 (47 percent) of them. CR’s tests showed that it is possible for manufacturers to sharply reduce inorganic arsenic in their juices. All but one of the juices in CR’s tests had inorganic arsenic levels below the FDA’s 10 ppb limit, and 58 percent had levels below CR’s recommended cutoff of 3 ppb.

Media Contact: Emily Akpan, emily.akpan@consumer.org